Dozens were arrested in the demonstration, including Manhattan council members Corey Johnson and Mark Levine and Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright.
The rally continued the call for a $15 an hour minimum wage, extended benefits and a right to unionize for airport workers. Led by 32BJ, the largest service employees union, the protest was part of a nine-city civil disobedience action.
Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, said Dr. Martin Luther King demanded a $2 minimum wage when he marched on Washington in 1963. Adjusted for inflation, that would roughly be $15.51 per hour today.
“This is how we celebrate the birthday of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, we celebrate by taking a stand,” Figueroa said. “He would be 87 years old today. We are fighting for what Dr. King fought for in 1963.”
This demonstration came two months after the union led a multi-city Thanksgiving fast for higher wages and more benefits.