Airport Restaurant Workers Win Strike at SFO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2022

Contact: Ted Waechter twaechter@unitehere2.org

Airport Restaurant Workers Approve Deal for $5/Hour Raises, Free Family Health Care After Strike at SFO

Strike By 1,000 Workers Had Shut Down Most of SFO’s Food and Beverage Outlets

San Francisco, Calif. – A thousand fast-food workers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) have won a $5 per hour raise and free family health care after shutting down most of the airport’s food and beverage outlets during a three-day strike. The workers, members of the hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 2, ratified their new union contract by a vote of 99.5 percent on Sunday, October 2, 2022.

Photos and B-roll of voting, picket lines, and shuttered restaurants are available for download here.

The contract includes:

  • $5 per hour raise. (Immediate raise of $3 per hour, additional raises totaling $5 per hour by September 2024.) Most workers’ hourly wage will increase $17.05 to $22.05 – almost a 30% raise.
  • Free platinum-tier family health insurance, including medical, dental, and vision. Workers can cover the whole family with no premiums. Co-pays of less than $30 for almost all doctor’s visits and prescriptions.
  • Increased retirement income through a defined-benefit pension.
  • Retention policy to protect workers’ jobs when food and beverage outlets change operators.
  • One-time $1500 bonus.

“This strike was so worth it to give my family a better life,” said Blanca Gay, a snack bar attendant at SFO for 30 years and member of the UNITE HERE Local 2 bargaining committee. “My son is in college, but he had to switch from full-time to part-time just so he could work. With the raises we won, I can help my son go back to school full-time. All the hard work and sacrifice of the strike has paid off for my family.”

“This victory is more than I ever dreamed of,” said April Asfour, a cook at Boudin Bakery Café at SFO. “I have six kids, and this raise will help me to support them. And with the health care that we won, I can cover all of them for free. I’m so proud that we stood up for ourselves, because everything we won will help me give my family a better life.”

The strike had forced most of SFO’s food and beverage outlets to close, and passengers reported long lines for food and coffee at the few outlets that remained open.

“This victory shows the world that fast-food jobs can in fact be good, family-sustaining jobs, and it’s all because workers had the courage to strike,” said Anand Singh, President of UNITE HERE Local 2. “After three years without a raise, SFO’s fast-food workers were tired of working two or even three jobs just to survive – so they took their lives into their own hands and won a better future.”

SFO fast-food workers’ strike began on Monday, September 26, 2022, and ended late Wednesday night, September 28, 2022, after a tentative deal between UNITE HERE Local 2 and the consortium of SFO airport restaurants was unanimously approved by the union’s bargaining committee of 80 airport restaurant workers.

The strike included a thousand cashiers, baristas, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, servers, and lounge attendants at 84 food and beverage outlets throughout SFO. The majority made $17.05 per hour and had not seen a raise in three years. The contract will expire in August 2025.

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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.