For immediate release
April 19, 2018
United Airlines Food Workers Protest at IAH Airport for Higher Minimum Wage
United has received hundreds of millions in public subsidies from City of Houston
Houston – Over 100 United Airlines food workers protested today at Bush Intercontinental Airport with signs reading “United Doesn’t Care About Houston.” Workers were joined by United Airlines flight attendants and ramp service workers, elected officials, and community leaders, to protest United Airlines’ poverty wages for airline catering and terminal concessions workers at the city’s publicly owned airport.
United has received hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies from the City of Houston in recent years. Yet, United doesn’t care about Houston residents who serve food for the airline and its passengers every day. United Airlines catering employees at IAH are stuck in poverty, earning as low as $9.99, and just over $11 per hour after nearly 30 years of service.
“I have worked hard for United Airlines for 29 years, and I’ve dedicated my life to this company,” said Maria Velasquez, a cafeteria worker at United Airlines’ catering kitchen at IAH. “But after 29 years with United Airlines, I make just a little over $11 an hour. Last year, I received a 7 cent raise.”
Workers rallied at the airport entrance at the corner of Greens Road and John F. Kennedy Blvd to call attention to the $216 million in subsidies the City of Houston has given to United Airlines in recent years, while the company continues to pay poverty wages to its employees in food service and in terminal concessions.
“I have worked at the airport for 4 years. I make just $10.50 an hour,” said Iris Thomas, a barista in United Airlines’ Terminal C. “I can’t tell you how many of my coworkers who work in United Airlines’ brand-new terminal have been evicted from their homes this year.”
Looking to change poverty wage jobs, over 2,000 United Airlines catering workers in Houston and four other cities filed for a national union election in January. In the months since, United has run an aggressive anti-union campaign against their employees. United even sought to deny the workers’ right to vote for a union by claiming that the employees — 95% of whom are immigrants and people of color — didn’t know what they were signing.
The City of Houston is currently negotiating a new agreement with United for Terminal E and the International Terminal Project, and could require the airline to pay a fair wage.