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Union to protest at Los Angeles International Airport on the day before Thanksgiving

LAX at night.

A union representing Los Angeles International Airport workers said it plans to hold a protest on Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.

 The group, Service Employees International United Service Workers West, said the protest is against Aviation Safeguards, which employs more than 400 people at LAX. The union said Aviation Safeguards walked away from its contract with employees.

The roughly two-hour event is expected to draw 1,000 participants, said Mark Gomez, the union’s strategic initiatives director. The group will start marching at noon at West Century and Airport boulevards and end up at LAX.

“We want to try to make a dramatic action, so people really understand what’s going on at the airport,” Gomez said.

 The union said under its old contract, Aviation Safeguards employees and their families were covered under the company’s healthcare plan. The company has since changed its policies. Employees that want to add their families to the plan have to pay out of pocket.

Aviation Safeguards said the majority of its LAX employees voted to leave the union last year, and are no longer held to the contract. Employees received a $2.18 an hour pay raise, bringing the average pay to $14.50 an hour, said Joe Conlon, Aviation Safeguards’ regional vice president.

“Our employees are now earning more per hour than under SEIU and are happy to be free of them,” Conlon said.

But Gomez, the union’s strategic initiatives director, said he doesn’t believe there was a vote where employees voted out the SEIU. He said LAX travelers on Wednesday should expect delays due to the protest, even though workers will not be walking off their jobs.

Los Angeles Airport Police said in a statement it is working on a plan that will let the union “exercise their first amendment rights, while also balancing the needs of passengers to get to their destination.”