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About 100 Protest At MSP Airport For Higher Wages

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport blocked traffic Friday as they rallied for higher wages.

They joined a growing number of workers across the country demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Airport workers say they stand in solidarity with other workers fighting to earn what they call a living wage.

Workers say all they want is to work with dignity.

To do that they say they need at least $15 an hour and to have the right to unionize.

Chants and music helped tell a story of airport workers and their push to make what they call a living wage.

"You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union," they sang.

"What do we want?" chanted a rally leader. "Fifteen," came the reply.

Abera Siyoun is one of many who say their hard work is not paying off.

"I'm working hard, but I cannot support my family," he said.

He works two jobs at the airport, seven days a week, but receives no benefits and can't make ends meet.

That's why he and those like him have come together to let their demands be heard.

Cart drivers, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners and their supporters marched down the entrance ramp to the airport and blocked traffic.

Travelers were stopped and then re-routed to get to their gates.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said the airport relies on the hard work of the people standing with him demanding change.

"We are unified in one idea and that is that work must have dignity," he said.

The Democrat is calling for a hike in the minimum wage and the right for these workers to unionize.

"If you are cleaning up the place and if you are guarding the place and if you are doing the really hard jobs," he said, "you deserve respect, and you must be paid fairly."

The rally comes on the heals of the firing of a Delta Air Lines employee.

Kip Hedges said he was fired for trying to organize a union.

Delta said he was fired for saying things that were not true about the company.

"We are pushing strongly with flight attendants and baggage handlers to become part of the International Association of Machinists," Hedges said, "I am the outspoken spokesperson for that effort."

The protesters blocked traffic for about 25 minutes.

Airport security officers helped direct traffic around the protest and made no arrests.

The rally ended a whole week of action across the country. About 150 cities in 35 states saw fast food workers strike.

Minnesota's minimum hourly wage was raised from $6.15 to $8 this summer. It will be lifted to $9.50 in two years.

A protest against police treatment of minorities shut down Interstate 35-W in Minneapolis for more than an hour Thursday.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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