Press Release: 02/14/2019
Press Contact: Maria Hernandez
Airline Catering workers at Flying Food Group vote 98% to Strike Saying They are Fed Up with Poverty Wages and Costly Health Insurance
Los Angeles, CA- UNITE HERE Local 11 Airline catering workers at Flying Food Group at LAX voted 98% this evening to go on strike, when weeks of negotiations for better wages and affordable health insurance have not yet yielded results. Flying Food Group at LAX employs a total of nearly 700 workers, and if workers walk this will be the second UNITE HERE strike at Flying Foods in recent years.
Airline catering workers in companies such as Flying Food Group, Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet prepare the food provided to airline passengers – meaning that certain planes cannot take off from the tarmac until being serviced by these workers, and a potential strike could cause serious travel delays in and out of LAX. Airline catering workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 service many major airlines, such as Delta, United, and American Airlines, who in 2017 had record breaking profits of $40 Billion worldwide.
Workers at Flying Food Group at LAX are the first to authorize a strike in what could be a big year for Airline Catering workers across the country, with industry giant Sky Chefs contract already expired. In total, 18,000 UNITE HERE airline catering workers will be negotiating their contracts in 2019 – making this strike authorization highly significant. With Flight Attendants warning of possible mass workplace actions as early as this Saturday related to a possible government shutdown, UNITE HERE’s strike authorization at LAX comes on top of a series of major travel disruptions facing airline travelers already in 2019.
Workers like Norma Reyes and Juan Varela voted to strike because they still do not make enough money to afford the health coverage provided by Flying Food Group. “I voted to strike because I want affordable health insurance. I currently pay $332 dollars a month for my health insurance through the company,” says Juan Varela, a Flying Food Group employee of 6 years.
Norma Reyes experiences the same issues. Wages are too low and the health insurance is not affordable. “As a single mother of three kids my wage of $14 an hour is not enough to cover my basic expenses like food, rent and utilities,” says Reyes.
“I cannot afford to pay the health insurance provided by the company because it is too expensive. It is wrong to make me, a single mother of three, choose between putting food on my families’ table and taking my daughter to the doctor.” – Norma Reyes, Flying Food Group, 8 years.
Airline catering workers are among the lowest paid in the heavily unionized airline industry and UNITE HERE Local 11 is committed to raising the standards for all airline catering workers.
In December of last year, hundreds of airline catering workers in cities across the United States held actions to send Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines a clear message that they are Fed Up with poverty wages and unaffordable health insurance going into 2019.
UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 30,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.