A labor protest near Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday evening forced road closures and led to more than a dozen arrests, officials said.
Sixteen people were arrested during the demonstration around LAX, which ran from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to Los Angeles Airport Police spokesman Rob Pedregon. The protesters, arrested for remaining at an unlawful assembly, were booked at LAPD Pacific Division station, he said.
The protest temporarily closed parts of Century and Sepulveda boulevards, disrupting traffic for Thanksgiving travelers headed home for the holidays.
The demonstration was part of a coordinated job action by catering workers across 17 airports nationwide to protest low wages, according to a news release from the union Unite Here. Demonstrators also gathered at San Francisco and San Diego international airports, according to the release.
“Though their work is essential to airline operations, one in four workers who provide food and drinks to American Airlines at its hubs and who work for subcontractors LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet earn less than $12 per hour, including many who have been in their jobs for over a decade,” the release reads.
LAX officials called the rush-hour protest “an unfortunate and unnecessary disruption of traffic and possibly operations because of an airline catering wage dispute and a labor action that will be taking place across the country.”
Earlier Tuesday, a suspicious item found outside LAX also created a traffic nightmare.
The item was discovered at 8:40 a.m. at Century Boulevard and Avion Drive. LAX Police said a bomb squad was dispatched and by 9:10 a.m. had secured the item and determined there was no hazard to the public.
But the law enforcement response shut down traffic on Century Boulevard, one of the main arteries into the airport. Roads reopened, but traffic was still backed up.
The week of Thanksgiving is typically the most crowded time of year at LAX, the nation’s second-busiest airport. About 3.2 million passengers are expected to travel though the airport during the two-week period around the holiday, officials said.
Tuesday was expected to be the fourth busiest day for vehicle traffic around the airport in the Nov. 20 to Dec. 3 period. Even more cars are expected to arrive at LAX terminals on Wednesday, Sunday and Monday, officials said.