Hundreds, including LAX employees and rideshare drivers, marched to airport terminals at LAX Wednesday to demand union rights.
Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful, and The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. who were also at the protest, spoke before a crowd to show their support for workers rights and union activists.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. called on the crowd to “march for jobs, for justice and job security,” which was echoed as a chant by the crowd.
The demonstrators marched along Sepulveda Blvd. and Century Blvd., which were temporarily closed. Demonstrations were held in front of the terminals for Southwest, American and United Airlines.
“We’re here to make sure LAX stays union. Union jobs where people can have good healthcare, good benefits and still keep minimum wage,” said Jovan Houston, a customer service agent and United Service Workers West union member.
Houston said companies such as Southwest and American Airlines are hiring non-union contract labor from companies like JetStream Ground Services.
Many participants at the event were Uber and Lyft drivers seeking to unionize. Jose Cabrera began driving primarily for Uber about five years ago when he lost his job due to a back injury. After recovering, he got a job in the same position he used to have, but for lower wages.
“Twelve dollars an hour was not enough earnings to meet to support my family,” Cabrera said.
He said he started working for Uber to make more money, but sees problems he believes a union would solve. Unionizing could help with car maintenance expenses, in addition to making up for the lost opportunity cost of working overtime in another job, Cabrera said.
Another rideshare driver, David Claus has driven for two years alongside his regular job as a promotional marketing writer for extra income. For him, rideshare driving is more than a weekend “side hustle.” It is also a five day a week job.
“I would say most drivers are not making over 10 bucks an hour,” Claus said. “So [unions are] trying to fix that. At least get it above $15 and hopefully above that.”
While Claus and other protesters are still waiting for change, he said he is hopeful this demonstration will help workers achieve “better wages, some benefits--that remains to be seen--but that’s the goal.”