For immediate release
October 26, 2015
New contract highlights double standards at airport
Philadelphia—Last Friday, fast food and restaurant workers at Philadelphia Airport unanimously approved their first union contract covering nearly 100 workers. This victory ensures workers will receive raises over the next two and a half years, which, together with scheduling protections, will double their take home pay and provide much needed stable jobs.
The contract guarantees:
- Job Stability: The employer must create as many full-time jobs as possible. Before the union, workers were scheduled for an average 30 hours per week and could lose work hours from week to week.
- Living Wages that raise workers out of poverty: These fast food and restaurant workers will receive an average raise of $5.08 by 2018. When increased hours are taken into account because of newly guaranteed full-time work, the average total income for full-time fast food and restaurant workers who previously worked the average 30 hours per week will double by 2018. The majority of the workers were previously below the poverty line for a family of two. These changes will raise them above that poverty line.
- Fair Scheduling: Schedules will be posted two weeks in advance. Workers will receive at least one week notice of any schedule changes. Workers can’t be sent home at the start of a shift with no pay.
“Our new contract will have a huge impact on my life,” said Damon McCall, who has worked at Earl of Sandwich for three years. “I will now be able to provide more support for my mom and save for a place of my own. This is what power for fast food workers in Philly looks like.”
Much of the discussion on fast food workers has focused solely on wages, but this victory highlights the importance of combining higher minimum wages with unionization. Only with the hours and scheduling protections of a union contract can the workers achieve this substantial increase in weekly take home pay. Fast food workers have organized and won unions at airports across the country, including those in Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Newark, and Miami.
In spite of this success, not all fast food workers at the Philadelphia airport are getting a fair deal for the work that they do.
“My co-workers and I have been asking Au Bon Pain for a fair process to decide whether to join a union for over a year. All we have gotten is a refusal to sit down and talk. We are happy for our fellow airport workers but we should not be left behind. The airport is changing but our lives aren’t,” said Samrauit Melaku, an Au Bon Pain employee for more than three years.
The new contract with Philadelphia Concessions Enterprises covers employees of Wendy’s, Villa Pizza, Earl of Sandwich, Red Mango, Cantina Laredo, and Far East at PHL. This is will be the second union contract for fast food and restaurant workers at Philadelphia Airport. On October 12, Chick-fil-A employees were the most recent PHL fast food workers to join UNITE HERE Local 274.