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Rep. Charles Rangel, 31 Others Arrested As Airport Workers Stage Sit-In

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Demanding higher wages and to be given a paid holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hundreds of airport employees and supporters held a march and sit-in on the LaGuardia Bridge in Queens on Monday.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, the workers were joined by politicians, including U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-Harlem; state Assemblyman Keith Wright, D-Harlem; and city Councilwoman Inez Dickens, D-Manhattan.

Thirty-two people, including Rangel, were arrested in the peaceful demonstration and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I have no sick days,” one airport worker said. “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 say they presented a petition to the Port Authority, which runs the airports, but have not heard back.

“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.”

The march and sit-in at Ditmars Boulevard and 94th Street seemed to signal a newly invigorated push for so-called “economic justice agenda items,” all part of a new city administration that is now tilting strongly to the left.

“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.

The event was dubbed as a “civil disobedience” to occupy the LaGuardia Bridge and also commemorate the protests led by King.

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