For immediate release
June 17, 2015
Workers call for right to organize free from intimidation
A group of concessions employees at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport participated today in a one-day strike in support of their call for a fair process to decide whether to unionize. Workers are employees of Aero Service Group, which operates BWI restaurants including DuClaw Brewing Co., Villa Pizza and Zona Cocina. The strike is possible because the state does not require that airport concession contractors like ASG ensure labor peace.
“We’ve asked ASG again and again to agree to respect our right to organize free from intimidation, but they have refused. The state depends on our work to make the airport run smoothly. Today we’re walking off the job to demand that ASG let us decide whether we want to unionize.” Said Tony Brown, a line cook at ASG’s Zona Cocina restaurant at BWI.
The strike comes after years of escalating labor unrest at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
For years, ASG workers and other employees have called on the State of Maryland and BWI concessions developer AirMall USA to address issues of low wages, job stability, and racial inequality. In a survey conducted by UNITE HERE between December 2013 and January 2014, hourly food and retail workers were found to average a median wage of $8.50 per hour. In recent years, over 100 concessions employees have lost their jobs when their restaurants closed or relocated.
A separate 2014 survey found racial disparity in job classification in BWI’s concessions program, with surveyed Black workers disproportionately staffing back of house or fast food jobs, which are typically lower income and lower status positions.
Taken together, these conditions paint a picture of a concessions program at the state owned airport which is failing the region, particularly as it relates to issues of racial- and economic inequality in some of Baltimore City’s poorest neighborhoods.
UNITE HERE Local 7 represents 2,400 workers in airports, hotels and casinos in and around Baltimore. Nationally, UNITE HERE represents 35,000 workers in airport concessions and catering.