32 arrested at LaGuardia Airport worker rally

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, at podium, voices her support for contract workers at Queens' two airports

Thirty-two people, including federal, state and city elected officials, clergy and airport workers, were arrested today after a crowd of close to 1,000 people blocked a bridge to LaGuardia Airport in protest of wages and benefits given to employees of companies that contract out services at the city’s airports.

The rally was organized by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union 

Those arrested, according to a statement issued by the union, included Congressman Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) and Queens City Council members Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica).

Arrests commenced when politicians, workers and others marched across and blocked the bridge at 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard that leads to the airport.

The workers, with whom 32BJ is attempting to organize a union, are asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday for contracted passenger service workers at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports, as well as Newark-Liberty Airport in New Jersey.

The workers are not employed by the airlines or the Port Authority, but by companies that contract out for things like food service, custodial work and security.

After the airlines repeatedly refused, workers and their supporters staged a march across — and occupation of — the 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard bridge.

 Others arrested include Council members Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan) , Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan); and union officials Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU; Shirley Aldebol, a vice president of 32BJ;  and union members, Andy Cabrera, Johnnie Peterson, Hazel Ingrahm, Fadila Mikullo and Ian Zehnder.

They were taken to the 115th Police Precinct, given summonses and released.

Others turning out to support the workers included City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James.

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