For immediate release
September 12, 2005
CHICAGO, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ — British and American unions are teaming up in an international show of solidarity for the Heathrow catering workers who were abruptly fired by the airline caterer Gate Gourmet. Fired Heathrow workers rallied with their American colleagues in Chicago today and will continue tomorrow with a rally in San Francisco and in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Gate Gourmet’s failure to resolve the matter in London has caused the unrest to spread across the Atlantic.
Gate Gourmet workers, members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and UNITE HERE in the U.S., and the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) in the U.K., will demand reinstatement of all fired Gate Gourmet workers at Heathrow. In August, 667 Heathrow workers were fired, some with just three minutes notice and others with just twenty minutes notice over a megaphone in the company’s parking lot.
Across the Atlantic, Gate Gourmet has been seeking unreasonably severe concessions from its U.S. employees. The Unions have fought the demands, most recently compelling the company to reinstate health coverage that it had unilaterally revoked.
Regarding the actions in the U.K., UNITE HERE President Bruce Raynor said, “We are dismayed that Texas Pacific Group [Gate Gourmet’s owner], with such a successful reputation for turning around struggling companies like Continental Airlines, would allow Gate Gourmet to engage in such outrageous behavior. Not only is such worker treatment patently irresponsible, we cannot understand how this works towards Gate Gourmet’s turnaround.”
TGWU General Secretary Tony Woodley said from London, “I’m very proud of the way our members have behaved. It certainly shows that far from being the militants the company tries to portray them as, they are quietly dignified, determined and strong in their desire for justice. Trade unions in the USA have been magnificent in their support.”
Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President said, “We’re inspired by our London brothers and sisters’ determination to fight Gate Gourmet’s outrageous anti-worker behavior. Labor unions are here to protect workers from unfair employer tactics like those of Gate Gourmet.”
The IBT, UNITE HERE and the TGWU represent over 9,000 workers at Gate Gourmet kitchens in the U.S. and London. The U.S. and UK unions have been in contract negotiations for nearly two years