On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while standing with striking sanitation workers. 49 years later, airport food workers in Philadelphia joined faith leaders, community groups and other workers to honor King’s struggle and rally for economic and racial justice.
In Philadelphia, workers who cater flights for American Airlines and other carriers are paid $4.20 less per hour than the airport living wage, amounting to annual losses of more than $8,700 for full-time employees.
Sky Chefs worker Avery Austin addressed the crowd, which numbered in the hundreds. “Everybody here is ready to fight. Nobody is backing down. Nobody is scared. All we want is equal rights.”
Following the rally, airline and airport food workers led a march through the streets around City Hall, chanting, “If we don’t get it? Shut it down!” and “Treat your workers with respect!” At the end of the march, attendees flowed into the Arch Street United Methodist Church for a teach-in about the intersections of racial and economic justice.
“We have to understand that they are scared because we are waking up. They thought we’re asleep, but we are not. We are not scared—we are ready.”