The vote comes amidst a labor renaissance as teachers and other service workers across the region fight for better jobs.
The workers’ primary contract demand is a significant raise to keep pace with the soaring cost of living. Some employees, the overwhelmingly majority of whom are people of color, earn only $18.04 an hour.
Workers are also striking due to allegations that FFG locked multiple emergency exits to prevent workers from picketing and has not taken effective action to protect female employees from sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.
“I will strike Flying Foods if we do not achieve a good contract for me and my family,” said Norma Reyes, 51, who sets up equipment for the catering company. “I cannot live on these poverty wages and feed my family. We have also filed numerous complaints alleging FFG’s treatment of us violates the law. This company must change how they treat us. If it takes a strike to do this, I will strike along with my coworkers.”
“When multiple doors were bolted shut on the day of our picket, it felt like the company was treating us like animals and was trying to interfere with our union rights,” said Gary Duplessis, 62, a cook at the facility and a complainant to Cal/OSHA, “It was dehumanizing. We’re tired of being treated like this. If a strike is what we need to do to get FFG to respect our legal rights, we are ready. We are ready to do whatever it takes to get what we rightfully deserve.”
Evelin Flores, 37, who filed a sexual harassment complaint with the California Civil Rights Department, stated, “I voted yes because every employee deserves a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. After what my trainer did, I felt anxious and helpless. I have thought about leaving my job but I have five children and I have to provide for them. Together with my coworkers, I’m willing to strike for justice, for accountability and for a better life for my family and me.”
“Airline catering workers serve the international tourists who visit our city year-round, and they will serve the athletes and travelers who come here for the World Cup and the Olympics,” said Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that represents FFG employees. “Our union is committed to making sure that ALL tourism workers make enough to live near where they work, can retire with dignity, and are treated with respect on the job. Flying Food Group is failing in all of these areas, and so these workers are ready to strike.”
FFG employs more than 300 workers at LAX who provide in-flight meals to more than a dozen major airlines, including Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Last year, Flying Food Group earned $46 million in revenue.
Airline catering workers’ collective bargaining agreement with FFG expired in June 2022, and a six-month extension produced little progress during negotiations.