Lloyd and hundreds of 32BJ SEIU airport workers from LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports marched down Ditmars Avenue on Monday to call on the Port Authority for higher wages, paid sick days and to create a stable work environment.
“It makes no sense to have a full-time job if you have to go on public assistance,” Lloyd said. “That’s for people who aren’t able to earn any income or don’t have a job at all. I work full time so I should be able to support myself.”
Although Lloyd said he is expecting a new position as a truck driver at the airport, he still has not received any notice of a pay increase or health coverage.
“I’m here today to fight for the salary and benefits, but also for the respect of an employee that works at JFK,” he said. “All we want is the recognition for the work that we do.”
Congressman Charles Rangel joined the protestors at a pre-march rally held at the corner of Ditmars Boulevard and 94th Street, just across the highway from LaGuardia Airport, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“What a great opportunity we have to remember Dr. King and to realize that no matter what life is like, there are so many people that have less than we do,” Rangel said. “There are people that work here every day and they live in poverty and that is wrong.”
Rangel and 32 federal, state and city elected officials, along with clergy and airport workers, were later arrested as nearly 1,000 protestors blocked a bridge to the airport.
“We have to stand up for justice,” Rangel said. “If it means getting arrested in an act of civil disobedience, then we wear that arrest as a badge of honor.”
Councilman Daneek Miller, among those arrested in the protest, later said in a statement that, “Today we honored Dr. King’s memory by standing with airport workers and fighting for justice.”
“We were arrested so that airport workers can have the living wages they deserve,” Miller said. “The importance of properly compensating the individuals who tend to our city’s gateways cannot be understated.”
Prior to the march, dozens of elected officials threw their support behind the union’s call for living wages.
“The City Council will stand united for you, airport workers, for your demands,” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “We have seen mobilization across this nation for fast food, car wash workers and airport workers, and we will be sure that we stand with you.”
After ushering in airport workers, one after another telling a similar tail of struggle and injustice, Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, said the rally is just the beginning in an effort to bring fairness to the working class of the city.
“It is an honor to stand with these courageous men and women who are asking only for decent wages, good benefits and to be treated with dignity and respect,” Figueroa said. “You can be sure that this is not the last time you will see us. We are not going away after this.”