For immediate release
January 27, 2020
As travelers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl LIV, workers launch 6-day fast at Miami International Airport to call for an end to poverty wages and unaffordable health care
MIAMI – Today, catering workers serving American Airlines launched a “Fast For Our Families” that will run through Saturday. The nine fasters, who are airline catering workers from Miami, New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis were joined in solidarity by National Football Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monastime and Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that all labor has dignity. Let’s remember, as hundreds of thousands of people descend onto Miami this week, that behind every Super Bowl party and celebration, there are men and women doing the work behind the scenes to be able to feed their families,” said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. “The NFLPA is proud to stand in solidarity with airline catering this week, and shame on American Airlines for not taking action to make sure they are provided a living wage.”
Fasters will be joined by other prominent allies as the week continues.
“We welcome all who are flying into Miami for the Super Bowl, but we want them to see our side of Miami too. We’re fasting for our families because our kids need to be fed, because we need to be able to take them to the doctor,” said Sonia Toledo, who has worked for LSG Sky Chefs at MIA for nearly thirty years. “Through this fast, we hope to expose and to urge American Airlines to end poverty in the airline industry.”
Though American Airlines, which has named MIA as one of its most important U.S. hubs, has earned $1.9 billion in profits in 2018, over 70% of airline catering employees at LSG Sky Chefs who service American at MIA earn below the living wage set for other airport employees.
Only 19% of airline catering workers serving American at MIA had company healthcare in 2018, and only 4% covered any dependents. A 2019 survey of 128 out of 840 employees in Miami found that 48% depend on government-funded healthcare programs for themselves or their children. Thirty-five percent (35%) reported that they are uninsured entirely.
“I stand in solidarity with these workers,” said Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). “At a time where Miami-Dade County is growing, and at a moment where we continuously hear from this administration that the economy is booming, it is truly shameful that we have workers in our communities who cannot pay for basic needs like housing, or medicine for their children.”
The fasters will base their week-long protest at MIA Terminal D, Departures area, but will hold daily actions at the airport and other Super Bowl events to spread their message as widely as possible. The fasters will be joined throughout the week by catering workers from other cities across the United States. These workers primarily serve American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines and are all working together to end poverty and secure good, affordable health care industry-wide.
“When all eyes are on Miami for Super Bowl LIV, we want to show the world what is beyond the glitz and glamour and address the poverty and inadequate health care system that airline catering workers face every day,” said UNITE HERE Local 355 President Rose Denis, who is among the fasters. “I am fasting because as an immigrant from Haiti, I understand that people who come here with the dignity and desire to work deserve to make enough to put food on the table and see a doctor when they need.”
UNITE HERE Local 355 represents nearly 7,000 workers in South Florida, including 1,000 airline catering workers at airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach. Local 355 is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, a labor union representing over 300,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada, including 20,000 airline catering workers for LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet, Flying Food Group, and United Airlines.