Hundreds of airport workers and their supporters turned out in the frigid cold for the Martin Luther King Day demonstration, part of a large-scale national civil disobedience action in ten major cities across the country.
Sporting purple SEIU knit caps against the icy breeze, the workers protested “the gross injustices and inequality that persist at airports across the country, and are calling for change in the hopeful and visionary spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said SEIU 32BJ, which is organizing them.
“Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers who faced inhumane conditions at work and poverty wages,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “I want to carry on the King legacy by standing with airport workers, from baggage handlers to cabin cleaners, fuelers to security officers, whose jobs have been contracted out to companies paying shamefully low wages.”
On their march to block traffic on Kutz Bridge, the demonstrators, chanting "When we fight, we win!" stopped at the Martin Luther King memorial to sing “We Shall Overcome” as visiting tourists cheered them on and joined in the singing.
Check out this week’s labor calendar at dclabor.org; click on Calendar.
Here’s today’s labor history:
The Chicago Crib Disaster happened on this date in 1909. A fire broke out during construction of a water tunnel for the city of Chicago, burning the wooden dormitory housing the tunnel workers. While 46 survived the fire by jumping into the frigid lake and climbing onto ice floes, approximately 60 men died, 29 burned beyond recognition and the others drowned.
In 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union was founded.
Today in 1961, hardworking Mickey Mantle signed a new contract with the New York Yankees making him the highest paid player in baseball: $75,000 for the entire season.
And in 1986, Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown," a eulogy for dying industrial cities, was the country’s most listened-to song.
Today’s labor quote is by Bruce Springsteen, from “My Hometown”
"Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back
to your hometown..."