FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
At American Airlines Meeting, Food Workers, Passengers and Retirees Say “We Are Fed Up!”
Mayor de Blasio speaks out in support of low wage catering workers as they finish multi-city tour through AA hub cities
NEW YORKâ Protesting at American Airlines’ annual shareholder meeting, dozens of airline food workers gathered with retirees, passengers and immigrant rights organizations to call out the airline for perpetrating indignities against both airline passengers, former American Airlines employees, and airline food workers. The rally was the final event on airline food workers’ multi-city Fed Up Tour, which also visited American Airlines hub cities Charlotte, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced his support for airline food workers. “The executives at American Airlines should remember that the hard work of thousands of people make their profits possible. I urge them to swiftly ensure all workers are paid a living wage and are treated with dignity and respect,” said Mayor de Blasio.
2016 profits for the airline industry reached a record $35 billion. Yet those record profits have translated neither into an exemplary experience for airline passengers, nor to dignified wages for thousands of airline food workers. While current airline employees have seen well-deserved raises, retired employees of American Airlines are fighting back against reductions to their hard-earned benefits, and food service contractors pay wages below even the legal minimum wage in several cities.
“I make barely $9.00â almost $4.00 less than the wage established by the Miami-Dade County Living Wage Ordinance,” said Yamilet Vigueras, an airline food worker at Miami International Airport who spoke directly to American leadership at the shareholders meeting. “I work hard to make food that I hope passengers will enjoy when they fly, and I think that both passengers and airline food workers like me deserve better from the airlines. To say I’m fed up is an understatement.”
Inside the shareholder meeting, Bobby Kirkpatrick, an airline catering worker at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for the past 36 years, asked American executives and directors, “Do you think I deserve to be treated equal to American Airlines’ employees?”
Workers joined members of the American Airlines Retirees Committee, whose Chair Gail Dunham said, “It is the many years of dedication and hard work from employees that has gotten American Airlines to where it is today, and our investments should be respected. If American wants to continue to succeed, it needs to treat passengers, workers and retirees better.”
UNITE HERE is a union with over 270,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, including 37,000 airline catering and concessions workers. It represents over 15,000 airline catering workers, employees of Gate Gourmet, Flying Food Group and LSG Sky Chefs, at 51 airports across the country.