FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 16, 2022
Contact: Ted Waechter [email protected]
41 Arrested at SFO After Blocking Traffic in Fast-Food Workers’ Protest Against Poverty Wages
1,000 Food Service Workers at SFO Say They’re Ready to Strike
San Francisco, Calif.—41 airport fast-food workers and supporters were arrested and cited after blocking traffic on the airport road outside of Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport. The non-violent civil disobedience, as well as picket lines by hundreds of workers and supporters, drew attention to workers’ fight against poverty wages and unaffordable health care.
Hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 2 represents a thousand fast-food workers at SFO – including cashiers, baristas, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, servers, and more – who have said they are prepared to strike for better jobs. California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez, State Senator Josh Becker, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, and San Francisco Supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar were among those arrested in solidarity with airport workers.
The majority of fast-food workers at SFO make $17.05 per hour and have not seen a raise in three years. Many say they have to work two or even three jobs to make ends meet. Workers have emphasized that their hourly wage is often less than the price of a single meal at SFO, comparing their pay to the price of popular menu items in viral social media videos viewed over 500,000 times. Affordable health care and a secure retirement are also key issues in ongoing negotiations.
“I have to work two jobs to support my family, and I’m exhausted from living on four hours of sleep a day,” said Lucinda To, a lounge attendant at the United Club and a server at Cat Cora’s Kitchen at SFO. “I’m making $16.99 per hour even though a meal at the airport costs at least $20. I hope this protest will show people that workers at SFO need a change, and we are ready to strike for it.”
“Working at SFO used to mean you had a good job, but most of the airport’s fast-food workers haven’t seen a raise in three years,” said Anand Singh, President of UNITE HERE Local 2, who was also arrested. “Nowadays a single meal at SFO often costs more than what an airport fast-food worker makes in an entire hour. After nine months of negotiations that got us nowhere, we’re ready to strike for decent jobs.”
Airport food service workers voted by 99.7 percent to authorize the strike through a vote held in August. A strike could begin at any time.
UNITE HERE Local 2 is the hospitality workers’ union in the San Francisco Bay Area, representing over 15,000 workers at San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and hotels, restaurants, tech cafeterias, sports stadiums, and more.