For immediate release
April 28, 2011
As San Diego International Airport moves forward with a redevelopment of its food and retail offerings, concessionaires from around the country have been eyeing the Airport for business opportunities. But they’re not the only ones paying attention to the changes that are coming.
On April 27, airport workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 30 overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with their employer, HMS Host, the airport concessions industry’s largest company. The new contract raises standards for Airport workers through guaranteed wage increases of over $2.50/hour over the next five years. The deal also strengthens the workers’ retirement plan and extends access to free, quality family healthcare coverage to all fulltime employees.
"This contract is just one part of airport workers’ long term effort to make airport jobs good jobs," said Brigette Browning, President of UNITE HERE Local 30. "Now we are going to focus our energy to ensure working conditions and customer service standards at SAN are maintained by any new concessionaires that get selected. The traveling public in San Diego deserves nothing less."
The new contract comes on the heels of the union’s successful lobbying last year to make worker retention a part of the RFP process. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority unanimously demanded that worker retention programs be included with all competing proposals. The Airport Authority also provided additional weight to proposals that go beyond the basic retention requirements.
The union’s industry analysts say the new deal ensures that the union will continue to lead the way in wage, benefit and customer service standards at San Diego International, but sets up the potential for conflict with concessions proposers.
"These standards will certainly be a factor in San Diego’s concessions redevelopment," said Blake Harwell, Policy Director of UNITE HERE’s Airport Group, the union’s New York based policy and development arm that analyzes North American airport concessions. "Proposers should factor these standards into their financial submittals so they avoid explaining later to the Airport Authority how their deal economics didn’t work because they underestimated their compensation, benefits and retention plans. The Airport Authority has already shown it is mindful of ensuring continuity for incumbent employees."
The airport begins its review process in the coming weeks with recommendations expected this summer for new concessions that would open beginning in 2013. On Wednesday Airport workers celebrated their new contract and expressed their insistence that new companies closely match the new standards.
"I have been fortunate to have an airport job with a collective bargaining agreement," said Cece Vargas, a bartender with 35 years of service at the Airport. "All the employees at Lindbergh Field are very happy to have finally signed the new contract and we hope that any additional concessions companies selected for the airport will follow Host’s example."
UNITE HERE represents more than 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, and airport concessions. The union represents 25,000 airport workers in 66 of the busiest airports across the U.S. and Canada. UNITE HERE Local 30 represents 4,500 workers in San Diego.