For immediate release
December 20, 2018
Actions take place in over 20 U.S. cities during one of the busiest travel times of the year
MIAMI – This month, airline catering workers in over 20 cities are participating in a variety of demonstrations to send a message to the airline industry that they are fed up with poverty wages and premiums that make healthcare inaccessible. The series of actions marks the official relaunch of the “FED UP” movement that began last summer and will continue into 2019 as the nearly 20,000 airline food workers who provide food and beverage service to most major U.S. airlines enter national union contract negotiations.
“As a food assembler, my job is critical to ensuring that international flights take off on time,” said Sonia Toledo, who works for LSG Sky Chefs at Miami International Airport. “After working for Sky Chefs for 27 years, I recently had to make the hardest decision of my life and cancel my health insurance. My company increased the price of their health plan, and I can’t afford it earning $12.45 per hour.”
In 2017, the major airlines made $40 billion in profits worldwide – up from $35 billion in 2016 — but those record profits haven’t benefited food workers who are integral to the industry’s success. The lowest hourly wage for an airline catering worker is $8.20. And at the largest airline catering subcontractors, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, less than 30% of workers have employer-provided health insurance.
Earlier this year, over 2,700 United Airlines catering workers in five U.S. cities chose to join UNITE HERE following a nearly year-long organizing campaign. Their victory sets the stage for a week of action that will see workers from the four largest airline catering employers—Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chefs, Flying Food Group, and United Airlines—come together in collective action for the first time.
The week’s largest demonstrations are planned at airport in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Miami, and will include actions such as leafletting passengers, rallying outside major terminals, and delegations to management, among others. The workers’ union is UNITE HERE, which recently settled a multi-city strike that won major gains for thousands of Marriott hotel workers.
“I’m 55 years old, an age when access to healthcare is becoming more important than ever,” said Toledo, “My work benefits American—a huge, profitable airline—but I’m scared that I won’t be able to afford the treatment if either my husband or I needs medical treatment. My co-workers in this industry and I have fighting for years. This time, we’re ready to do whatever it takes to get what we deserve from the airline industry.”
For more information on the December series of actions, or the Fed Up InFlight national campaign, visit www.fedupinflight.org.
UNITE HERE is a labor union representing 300,000 hospitality workers in the U.S. and Canada. This includes nearly 20,000 airline catering workers employed by Flying Food Group, Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chefs, and United Airlines.