Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Wednesday will stage a “huge” rally outside Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), tying up traffic on one of the airport’s busiest days of the year.
“More than 1.792 million passengers — an 0.3 percent increase over last year — are expected to pass through LAX over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, which began last Friday and ends Monday,” Contra Costa Times reports.
“LAX is expected to be second only to Chicago-O’Hare International Airport in passenger volume,” the report adds.
So, naturally, a large labor demonstration will lead to “complications.”
The rally is expected to last from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Times. The LAPD has advised travelers to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.
“Passengers arriving during this five-hour period are advised to add an additional 90 minutes to their planned drive time,” the LAPD said in a statement.
So why is the SEIU trying to disrupt LAX on one of its busiest days of the year?
Well, according to union leaders, airport management has “violat[ed] the city’s living-wage ordinance” and has “eliminated affordable healthcare for more than 400 workers.”
“The union says about 400 airport workers were left without a contract earlier this year when Aviation Safeguards, a unit of Command Security Corp. of Parsippany, N.J., terminated contracts with the Service Employees International Union and withdrew all health insurance,” Contra Costa Times reports.
However, what SEIU leaders fail to mention is the fact that a) Aviation Safeguards has been trying to get out of the union since last year and b) Aviation Safeguards employees are not in favor of the Thanksgiving-eve demonstration.
“We petitioned to leave the SEIU almost a year ago, and the contract ended,” Frederick McNeil of Aviation Safeguards said. “And now they’re bringing in outsiders to block travelers who are just trying to get home for the holidays. It’s ridiculous. People need to understand that SEIU doesn’t speak for the employees at Aviation Safeguards.”
Tell that to Mike Garcia, president of SEIU United Service Workers West.
“By allowing the situation to continue, LAX is punishing the good contractors who play by the rules,” said Garcia. “Things at the airport have gotten out of control, and workers are ready to take action.”
Rally organizers say they expect approximately 1,000 union members to participate in the demonstration.
Most of the SEIU protesters “will not even be LAX workers. They don’t work here and they don’t know our company,” said Andres Cazares, who has been with Aviation Safeguards for 19 years.
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Front page photo courtesy the AP.