A dozen people were arrested at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday after blocking traffic in a sit-in protest to call for better pay for workers who provide in-flight food and beverages for airlines, according to a union that said it represents the catering workers.

The union, local 23 of Unite Here, said it led the protests at Reagan to call for higher pay and better health benefits. The group said demonstrations took place at 17 cities throughout the United States.

The Tuesday demonstrations came amid heavier traffic at airports for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The union said the catering workers prepare, pack and deliver food and beverages served on American Airlines as well as other major United States carriers.

However, American issued a statement saying that the workers are employed by catering companies and not the airline.

In its statement, American expressed confidence that with the continuing aid of federal mediators the catering firms and the union will reach new nationwide agreements increasing pay and benefits.