For immediate release
August 11, 2005
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Unions baffled by Gate Gourmet's provocative actions
NEW YORK, AUGUST 11, 2005: UNITE HERE Union members stand in solidarity with the more than 800 Transport & General Workers (T&G) Union members fired by Gate Gourmet at London Heathrow International Airport. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UNITE HERE represent over 6,000 workers at Gate Gourmet in the U.S. UNITE HERE members will send delegations to Gate Gourmet, U.S. management throughout the country demanding the London workers be re-hired immediately.
According to the T&G, Gate Gourmet brought in 120 temporary workers yesterday, after recently laying off 147 union members, and was prepared for union members to walk off the job in protest. T&G General Secretary Tony Woodley called the company’s actions “provocative and premeditated.” British Airways staff, also T&G members, has staged an unofficial spontaneous walkout in solidarity with the fired workers.
All this takes place as Gate Gourmet’s negotiations with the Teamsters and UNITE HERE progress toward a resolution. Gate Gourmet and the unions recently agreed to arbitration to settle their nearly two years of contract talks.
UNITE HERE is baffled by Gate Gourmet’s inconsistent business approaches at such a vulnerable time for the company. Gate Gourmet equity owner, Texas Pacific Group (TPG), has reportedly been negotiating with Gate Gourmet lenders since the caterer defaulted on its debt in January 2005.
“We are surprised that TPG, with such a successful reputation for turning around struggling companies like Continental Airlines, would allow Gate Gourmet to engage in such nonsensical behavior,” said UNITE HERE Executive Vice President, Sherri Chiesa. “Not only is such worker treatment patently irresponsible, we cannot understand how grinding Heathrow to a halt works towards Gate Gourmet’s turnaround.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UNITE HERE represent over 6,000 workers at Gate Gourmet kitchens located at U.S. airports and Amtrak stations. U.S. Gate Gourmet employees have been working without an amended contract since June 2004.