Airline catering workers to block traffic in civil disobedience against poverty wages and unaffordable health care

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 13, 2020

Contact: Ted Waechter / 919-636-1124 / twaechter@unitehere2.org

Twitter: @UniteHereLocal2 / #1job

 

Airline catering workers to hold civil disobedience blocking traffic at SFO in protest against unaffordable health care and poverty wages

Thousands of airline catering workers serving American Airlines to participate in national day of action

 

WHO: Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 2 airline catering workers and their supporters–including Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton–at SFO. Thousands of UNITE HERE airline catering workers at 15 airports across the United States.

WHAT: Union demonstration including nonviolent civil disobedience calling on American Airlines to take urgent and necessary steps to ensure that workers who cater its flights are able to escape poverty and access medical care.

WHERE: SFO Terminal 2 (Departures Level)

WHEN: Friday, February 14 from 3:30pm-6pm

WHY: American Airlines made $1.7 billion in net income in 2019, but subcontracted airline catering workers who provide the food and beverages served aboard American’s flights at SFO and around the country are often living in poverty and unable to afford healthcare.

This is set to be the latest and largest in a series of demonstrations by airline catering workers at U.S. airports. In November, airline catering workers and supporters–including Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, and Ahsha Safaí–were arrested in a nonviolent sit-in inside the American Airlines terminal at SFO.

Contracted catering workers at SFO prepare American Airline’s in-flight meals and ensure its flights are properly stocked with food, water, and other beverages for on-time departures. Yet, less than 50 percent of workers at the SFO airline catering kitchens where workers have authorized a strike had employer-provided health insurance in 2018, and 10 percent had a child or other family member covered. Monthly premiums are up to $800.

“I prepare snacks for the premium-class cabin on American Airlines, but my wages are so low that I work 12 hours a day just to make ends meet,” said Linda Fajardo, an airline catering worker serving American Airlines and others. “And my health care is so unaffordable that I avoid important medical tests because I can’t afford the bills. American Airlines is rich enough to make sure that I can see the doctor and have a decent life.”

In addition to ongoing protest activity at SFO, previous large-scale demonstrations calling attention to American Airlines have already taken place this year in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Dallas-Ft. Worth—where over 50 were arrested in a civil disobedience near American Airlines’ headquarters. This summer, airline catering workers at SFO voted overwhelmingly to strike when released by the National Mediation Board. Federal mediation of contract negotiations continues.

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UNITE HERE Local 2 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents 14,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, including 2,100 airline catering workers at SFO. Learn more on Twitter @UniteHereLocal2 or at unitehere2.org.

50 arrested at SFO American Airlines terminal in airline catering workers’ Thanksgiving civil disobedience

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Contact: Ted Waechter / 919-636-1124 / twaechter@unitehere2.org

Twitter: @UniteHereLocal2 / #1job

 

50 arrested at American Airlines SFO terminal in airline catering workers’ Thanksgiving civil disobedience

Sit-in followed protest by more than 350 workers and supporters, calling for American Airlines to address poverty wages and unaffordable health care as part of nationwide airport demonstrations in 17 cities

 

San Francisco, Calif. — Fifty airline catering workers and supporters – including Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, and Ahsha Safaí – were arrested in a nonviolent sit-in inside the American Airlines terminal at SFO. The civil disobedience followed a protest by more than 350 workers on one of the busiest travel days in the U.S., the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Photos and video of the action are available here, courtesy of Unite Here Local 2.

“I took arrest today because even though I load drinks and snacks onto carts for American Airlines, my health care is so unaffordable that I’m afraid to go to the doctor,” said Malia Salt, an airline catering worker who serves American Airlines and was arrested in today’s civil disobedience. “All the bills have left me in thousands of dollars of medical debt, while American Airlines makes billions. It’s time for American Airlines to make my health care affordable.”

The demonstration was led by UNITE HERE Local 2 airline catering workers, who prepare food and beverages served on board American Airlines and other flights departing from SFO. Workers and supporters – including Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, and Ahsha Safaí, Fred Ross Jr., and Marriott workers who went on strike last year – held a sit-in near the American Airlines check-in area while more than 350 – including cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, luggage handlers, and other airport service workers with Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) – protested in front of the terminal. They called on American to take urgent and necessary steps to ensure that workers who cater its flights can escape poverty and access affordable healthcare; the action was part of nation-wide protests by thousands of airline catering workers in 17 cities.

“We’re protesting on this busy travel day because we want American Airlines passengers to know that poverty wages and unaffordable health care are unacceptable,” said Anand Singh, President of Unite Here Local 2, who was also arrested in today’s civil disobedience. “One job should be enough for the workers who cater American Airlines flights, and we’re ready to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

Though airline catering workers are essential to airline operations, less than 50 percent of workers at the SFO airline catering kitchens where workers have authorized a strike had company health insurance in 2018, and 10 percent had a child or other family member covered. Meanwhile, American reported a 2018 annual profit of $1.9 billion.

Today’s protests are the latest in a series of demonstrations at airports across the country calling attention to American Airlines. In addition to SFO, protests and/or acts of nonviolent civil disobedience took place in 17 cities, including major airports in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. This past summer UNITE HERE airline catering workers at SFO voted overwhelmingly to strike when released by the National Mediation Board. Federal mediation of contract negotiations continues.

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UNITE HERE Local 2 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents 13,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, including 2,100 airline catering workers at SFO. Learn more on Twitter @UniteHereLocal2 or at unitehere2.org.

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