For immediate release
November 16, 2004
(202) 661-3693 or Mobile: (202) 352-7944
Agreement improves conditions for 300 airport workers; Union focus now turns to help 120 workers still without union contract
(Baltimore, Maryland) – Today food and retail concession employees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport unanimously ratified their first union contract which will dramatically improve working conditions for over 300 workers. The Agreement is between the Mid-Atlantic Region of UNITE HERE and Creative Host Services, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-based Compass Group – one of the world’s largest food concession companies. Creative Host has a subcontract with BAA to operate a portion of BWI Airport’s food and retail concession program.
“My co-workers and I are thrilled to finally win the improvements to our jobs that we deserve,” exclaimed Betty Schueler, a bartender of 30 years at BWI. “We have struggled for two and a half years to gain a voice at work and now we have one.”
The three-year contract will go into effect immediately and improve wages, make health care more affordable, add two holidays (including Martin Luther King’s Birthday), and establish grievance and arbitration procedures. Wages will increase by 16% over the life of the contract from the current average wage of $7.25 per hour. Tipped employees will receive raises of 24%.
Health insurance will become dramatically more affordable. Employee contribution towards individual coverage will be reduced by over 170%; from $50 per bi-weekly pay check down to $18.50. Family coverage costs will be reduced by 25%.
“This contract sets a new standard for creating living-wage, family sustaining jobs at one of Maryland’s key economic engines,” said Roxie Herbekian, Associate Director for the Mid-Atlantic Region. “We urge BAA and its other subcontractors at the airport to see the value of being responsible corporate citizens and reaching similar agreements with our union.”
In June of 2004, BAA took over as manager of the airport’s concessions program under a 12-year contract with Maryland Aviation Administration, replacing HMSHost. BAA has made claims that their new mall developer model would create competition for airport jobs which would bring quality jobs at BWI. To date, BAA has subcontracted operations out to two companies with mixed results.
While the ratified union contract with Creative Host Services is a positive step forward for workers, Airport 2000 Concessions (A2K), the second subcontractor which is a small and relatively inexperienced airport concessions operator has made poor quality jobs. Besides refusing to recognize the union for its 120 employees, A2K has cut wages, made health insurance unaffordable, and cut vacation and paid holidays. The union will now focus on bringing good jobs to A2K.
“I was with the previous contractor – HMSHost – for 19 Â½ years and was never without health benefits. I had to wait 3 months under A2K, and during that time I had to pay $366.50 per month for benefits,” said Eva Johns who works at Nature’s Table in the Main Terminal.
UNITE HERE is the merged union of hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile and laundry workers. The new union represents nearly half a million workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. UNITE HERE represents over 11,000 airport concession employees throughout North America, including at 41% of large and medium-hub airports. The UNITE HERE Mid-Atlantic Region has over 13,000 members in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.