Police detain a protester on Sepulveda Boulevard, just outside Los Angeles International Airport, on the busiest travel day of the year ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Los Angeles, California, November 21, 2012. Airport workers and union members marched on Wednesday appealing for improved wages and healthcare for their jobs, according to protest organisers. (Photo : Reuters)
The busiest travel day of the year got a bit busier in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as union airport workers headed to Century Boulevard to protest against what they called unfair labor practices. According to Westwood-CenturyCity Patch, thousands of protesters showed up yesterday, leading to 13 arrests and delaying traffic to the airport.
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Union workers from SEIU United Service Workers West wore purple shirts and carried signs to protest against LAX contractor Aviation Safeguards over terminated contracts and eliminated family healthcare insurance. Protesters were surrounded by police officers in riot gear as well as members of the media, Patch reported.
Mike Garcia, president of SEIU United Service Workers West, said, "By allowing the situation to continue, LAX is punishing the good contractors who play by the rules. Things at the airport have gotten out of control, and workers are ready to take action."
While SEIU workers protested, Aviation Safeguard workers maintain that they voted to end their affiliation with the union and were not planning to join the strike.
Frederick McNeil of Aviation Safeguard said, "We petitioned to leave the SEIU almost a year ago, and the contract ended. 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."
To avoid delays, LAX warned travelers on Monday to add an additional 90 minutes to their travel time for Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Despite the arrest and road blocking, LAX official Nancy Castles told Patch that there were no flight delays or other conflicting issues for passengers.
LAX officials were not the only ones to express their disapproval over SEIU's planned strike. Commentators on Twitter from all over the country said they opposed the union's decision to protest.
Jonathan Kimble (@JonathanKimble), from Houston, TX, tweeted, "The whole #lax thing is a joke. Most people are happy to have #jobs and these guys strike. I would fire them all and hire new people." Michael Dorausch (@chiropractic) from Los Angeles appeared to agree. He tweeted, "LAX workers on strike? Perfect timing for holiday travel."
But not everyone was affected by the strike. Venice, Calif. self-proclaimed entrepreneur Stefan Wrobel (@swrobel) tweeted, "Shortest security line ever at LAX terminal 6. No traffic Lincoln to Sepulveda from Venice. Strike? What strike."
The strike, which temporarily closed westbound Century Boulevard between Airport and Sepulveda boulevards and northbound Sepulveda between Imperial Highway and 98th Street, ended shortly after 2 p.m. PST, Patch reported.