WASHINGTON — Airport workers across the country rallied on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day demanding justice. Those who work at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport braved the cold and marched down Independence Avenue, blocking traffic to draw attention to the cause.
They want a living wage of $15 an hour from the airport contractors who employ them.
Many of the workers, bundled up and standing in the shadow of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, have worked at the airport for years.
“I check their bags curbside,” says David Tucker who has been handling passengers’ bags for 53 years.
When I started, I was making $1.75 an hour but I had benefits, insurance and sick leave and you know, hospitalization. But 53 years later, I only make $3.77 an hour with no benefits. So look at the difference. It’s not right,” Tucker says
Joined by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the 32BJ SEIU workers marched from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial down Independence Avenue to draw attention to their demands of a $15 living wage from airport contractors. They also want to organize into their own union.
Carrying signs that read “Poverty Doesn’t Fly,” the group sat down in the intersection at Independence Avenue and 14th street in front of the Department of Agriculture.
The sit-in only lasted a few minutes, but workers say they felt they made a difference for their cause.
Though she didn’t join the workers during their rally or march, Mayor Muriel Bowser released this statement in solidarity with the group:
“Each Martin Luther King Jr. Day we must redouble efforts to realize Dr. King’s dream of equality and opportunity for everyone. That includes ensuring that working men and women have the right to organize and earn a fair day’s pay for a day of work. The District of Columbia stands in solidarity with workers throughout the region and the nation as they fight to realize that dream.”