Hundreds of union members and other workers rallied in and around Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday, urging elected officials and community leaders to support workers’ right to unionize.
The rally began on Century Boulevard east of the airport, and participants then marched into the airport’s Central Terminal Area. There were no reported disruptions to any flight operations, but the demonstration created some traffic headaches for people trying to reach the airport, with a portion of Century Boulevard blocked for several hours and other streets subjected to rolling closures as the procession made its way into the terminal area.
Among the dignitaries joining the marchers were presidential hopeful and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, former state Sen. Kevin de Leon and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union.
“Unions represent mothers and fathers that are working a very long day and they deserve to be able to have fair working conditions, a safe workplace, livable wages,” Harris told reporters. “And it is the unions that have the power and ability to bargain for them so that they have dignity and so people recognize the dignity of work.”
According to the Service Employees International Union, the march was designed to send the message that employees in the airline, ride-hailing, childcare and other industries who help make corporations successful are struggling to afford rent and basic necessities.
The march also voiced support for newly signed state legislation that makes it more difficult for employers to designate workers as independent contractors, making them essentially ineligible for benefits. Uber and Lyft officials strongly opposed the measure and have indicated they hope to find exemptions to the law, which goes into effect in January.
Wednesday’s march came ahead of the Unions for All summit, which will be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in downtown Los Angeles. SEIU members from around the country are expected to attend.
The summit on Friday is expected to feature discussions with Democratic presidential candidates, including Harris, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was originally scheduled to attend, but his appearance was scrubbed due to Sanders’ hospitalization. A campaign spokesman said Sanders experienced some chest discomfort during a campaign event Tuesday night, was found to have a blockage in one artery, and two stents were successfully inserted.
The 78-year-old Sanders was hospitalized in Las Vegas, prompting the campaign to cancel upcoming appearances.
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