NYC Rep. Charles Rangel Arrested! He And Others Hold Airport Workers Sit-In

January 21, 2014  |  

Like we have been saying wages remains a hot button issue. So much so U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) was just arrested in a protest over a demand for increased wages for New York City airport workers.

Hundreds of LaGuardia Airport workers marched in protest over the weekend demanding higher wages and to be given a paid holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The workers were joined by such high-profile supporters as Rangel; state Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem); and city Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan).

When police broke up the peaceful march and sit-in that spanned 94th St. Bridge, 32 people, including Rangel, were arrested. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

“We’re going to fight for decent wages,” Rangel told protesters. “We’ve got to fight for sick pay. We’ve got to fight for pension. And we will continue to fight for it.”

“I have no sick days,” one airport worker told CBS local news. “So if I take time out of my day (to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day), it’s out of my pocket.”

Members of the Service Employees International Union have given a petition to the Port Authority, which operates the airports; no response yet.

“We have a … brand new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and I’m certain that he will be spearheading our fight for decent wages,” Rangel said.

Rangel is no stranger to being arrested for protesting. In 1984, while taking part in an anti-apartheid rally in front of the South African consulate in New York he was arrested. In 1999, the Congressman was also arrested; that time with civil rights activist Al Sharpton and former NYC Mayor David Dinkins for protesting the fatal shooting of an innocent 23-year-old African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, by four white and Hispanic New York City police officers. And in 2004, Rangel became the first of three sitting U.S. House members to be arrested on trespassing charges when he  protested human rights abuses in Sudan in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. Representatives Bobby Rush and Joe Hoeffel were later arrested as well.

It’s only fitting that Rangel’s latest arrest landed on MLK Day given the many times Dr. King led peaceful protests for change. And on the eve of his death, King was in Memphis to help in the Memphis sanitation strike. Black workers were protesting discrimination, dangerous working conditions, and for the right join the union.

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