HUNDREDS OF PROTESTERS, including members of an airport workers union, labor and community leaders, march down Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport Nov. 21 in a demonstration calling for increased pay and health benefits.

Members of a union representing service workers at Los Angeles International Airport were among hundreds of protesters who marched outside the airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year to call for increased pay and benefits.
Representatives of the Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West were joined by labor and community leaders as they marched down Century Boulevard, a primary entryway into LAX, on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving. The demonstration led to area road closures that reportedly caused some traffic impacts and delays for airport passengers.
Police said approximately a dozen protesters were arrested for failing to disperse.
Service workers represented by the union include cabin cleaners, wheelchair assistants, janitors, ramp and cargo workers and baggage handlers.
Union officials allege that airport contractor Aviation Safeguards has violated the city’s “living” wage ordinance and walked away from its contract with over 400 airport workers earlier this year. The union additionally alleges that the contractor refused to meet with the National Mediation Board, to honor contractual terms and refused to meet with the union to resolve any disputes.
“Things at the airport have gotten out of control, and workers are ready to take action,” said Mike Garcia, United Service Workers West president.
But other Aviation Safeguards workers said they had no intention of joining the protest and denounced the action as a way to disrupt Thanksgiving holiday travel. They claimed that many of the protesters were not employees at LAX.
Contracted employees claimed that many workers signed petitions in December 2011 to leave the union and most are now receiving higher wages.
Joe Conlon, Aviation Safeguards regional vice president, said that the employees are free to rejoin SEIU at any time. “We respect our employees’ right to choose representation and would not stand in the way of a vote.”
According to the union, airport workers’ collective bargaining contracts are set to expire this year.