For immediate release
July 14, 2011
Lufthansa's US catering workers protest treatment by German airline at its Long Island headquarters
EAST MEADOW, NY–Joined by coworkers from around the country, hundreds of inflight catering workers for LSG Sky Chefs from New York’s airports marched to the headquarters of the German airline Lufthansa, Sky Chefs’ parent company, to demand the settlement of a fair contract for the more than 6,000 Sky Chefs workers across North America who have been in contract negotiations since October 2009.
"I marched today to show Lufthansa that all Sky Chefs workers nationwide stand together," says Carmen Vargas, a 20-year Sky Chefs employee in New York. "All we ask for is a fair contract with good wages and benefits, that is what we are fighting for."
Workers at the German-owned company, some of whom have not had raises since 2002, are seeking improvements in wages and more affordable health care.
"I work two jobs, seven days a week to support my family," says John Munsen, a 24-year employee at Sky Chefs in Minneapolis. "Sky Chefs’ family health care plan has a price tag of six thousand dollars and that is not affordable with our wages. We deserve a plan we can afford so we can take care of our families."
Sky Chefs workers gave back up to 30% of their total compensation in 2006 to help the company survive a challenging time in the inflight catering industry. Now that the company is financially healthy again, workers say the time has come for the company to bargain in good faith and reach a fair agreement.
"I am a single mother with two children, and we live in a garage where I pay $400 for rent because after all these years I only make $11.03 an hour," says Clara Mera, a 25-year Sky Chefs employee in Los Angeles. "Sometimes I have to put off buying medicine for my son who has asthma. We made sacrifices to help this company. Now we want a fair raise and a fair contract."
UNITE HERE represents over 6,000 Sky Chefs workers in more than 40 kitchens around the country. LSG Sky Chefs’ main competitor, Gate Gourmet, settled a contract with its union workers in June 2010.
UNITE HERE represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.