UNITE HERE members demand better wages, healthcare so that One Job Can Be Enough for all airline industry workers
NEW YORK – Airline food workers in 21 cities across the country will vote in the next two weeks whether to strike if and when released by the National Mediation Board. The workers prepare, pack, and deliver food and drink served on American Airline, Delta, and United flights. They are members of UNITE HERE and employees of the country’s two largest airline catering subcontractors, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and members of bargaining units covering over 18,000 airline food workers nationwide. The strike vote will poll the largest number of airline catering workers ever in the United States, coming just months after UNITE HERE workers successfully struck Marriott across 8 cities for two months in late 2018 and echoing the demand of UNITE HERE hotel strikers then that One Job Should Be Enough.
The move to take strike votes follows months of bargaining that have failed to secure living wage offers for airline catering workers, the majority of whom earn under $15 an hour—some after more than 40 years of service—and many of whom go without medical care because they cannot afford the $500 monthly premium of their family healthcare plans.
UNITE HERE International Union President describes raising standards for airline catering workers as the union’s number one priority: “The three biggest airlines in the country, American, Delta, and United, made $50 Billion in combined profits in just the past five years alone – so why do workers who serve their food earn under $10 an hour in some cities?” said D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE. “The airline industry is making record profits, on the backs of deeply exploited kitchen workers who are forced to choose between paying their bills, relying on government assistance or even forfeiting medical care even while working overtime. We refuse to allow that to continue.”
Preston Strickland, a UNITE HERE airline catering worker who cooks food for American Airlines flights in Dallas, has struggled with housing insecurity, lack of medical coverage, and homelessness because of the poverty wages paid by the airlines to food service workers. “Since 2015, I have worked overtime preparing the food for American Airlines flights and still have been unable to afford medical insurance and stable housing. At one point I worked overtime every day straight for three weeks, and still ended up in a homeless shelter because one job at American Airlines is not enough. I do good, honest work every day, but I still can’t even afford both medical coverage and rent. That’s why my coworkers and I are voting to strike when released – because one job should be enough.”
The strike votes will begin June 11th in kitchens serving major airline hub airports including Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW), New York (JFK), Miami (MIA), Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), and Philadelphia (PHL). For a full list of participating cities and vote status information, visit AirportStrikeAlert.org.
UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada. This includes over 20,000 workers in the airline catering industry who are employees of Flying Food Group, Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chers, and United Airlines. Learn more at unitehere.org.