NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD arrested at least 60 protesters for causing major disruptions at JFK Airport.
Airline catering workers and supporters were cuffed as they blocked the streets around Terminal 8, which serves American Airlines.
Others staged a sit-in inside, creating chaos for holiday travelers.
The workers want a nationwide wage increase to at least $15 an hour and say only one in five of them get health insurance.
Fellow workers are staging similar protests against the airlines and their catering companies at 17 other major airports around the country.
This all started in July when the workers began demanding higher wages and better benefits from the airlines and the catering companies they sub-contract.
“It’s time that they value you and show the value of the work that you do and stop with this ‘we’re not gonna pay you fair wages, we’re not gonna give you good benefits.’ It’s time that they negotiate a fair contract,” Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council said.
The airlines say paying these outside vendors more will drive up costs.
American airlines reiterated the protesters are employed by catering companies, not the airline directly, and said in a statement “we are confident… The catering companies and Unite Here will negotiate new nationwide agreements that increase pay and benefits.”
“We are not in a position to control the outcome of their negotiations or dictate what wages or benefits are agreed upon,” the airline added.
The workers argue the airlines are making record profits and should distribute some of that to their workforce.
Airport officials at JFK say the rally has not delayed any flights schedules. The workers union say they will continue fighting, but do not plan on having another protest Wednesday.