Every day, huge numbers people fly in and out of LaGuardia airport on corporate business, working to keep the flow of money to the financial titans of Wall Street running smoothly. The people who work to keep LaGuardia running smoothly, however, don’t see much money flowing their way. They’re not even making enough money to keep them above the poverty line. Some of them are bringing in less than seven dollars per hour.
So, yesterday, the SEIU celebrated Martin Luther King Day by staging a protest, temporarily blocking part of a roadway into LaGuardia airport. Corporate representatives were delayed a few minutes as a result. U.S. Representative Charles Rangel was among those who was arrested by police for taking part in the protest.
“Dr. King marched with Memphis sanitation workers working under deplorable conditions, yet making what today would be $11.41 per hour. It is an affront to Dr. King’s legacy that, 46 years after his death, New York area airports workers are making even less in real wages than the sanitation workers he championed,” reads a union explanation of the movement behind the protest.
LaGuardia is getting a 3.6 billion dollar surge of money for renovations. There is no planned renovation of wages for airport workers, however.
The problem isn’t isolated to LaGuardia. In Manhattan, a company called Novel Services Group recently took over management of cleaners for swanky offices on Madison Avenue. Cleaners’ wages were severely cut, and their health care coverage was taken away. The cleaners are on strike, but their jobs can simply be given to others.
The city that never sleeps is kept running by workers who never sleep – because they’ve got to work overtime just to keep food on the table.