UNITE HERE local 11 represents hospitality workers in five major airports in Southern California and Arizona. We represent servers, baristas, cooks, bartenders and other concession and retail workers at LAX, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport, and the Ontario Airport.
Our members work for HMS Host, SSP, Hudson News, Areas, Paradies, to name a few. We also represent airline catering workers who work for Sky Chefs and Flying Food Group.
DAY FIVE OF THE FLYING FOOD GROUP ULP STRIKE
Meet Agustin Avila. Here’s why he’s striking against unfair labor practices & low wages. “The cost of living is going up but our wages aren’t.” Sí se puede baby!
MARIA FAVELA ON STRIKE!
Flying Food Group catering workers are on strike, serving up demands for justice, a fair contract, and a stop to unfair labor practices!
STRIKE ALERT: Airline Catering Workers at Flying Food Group Walk Out on Strike
Workers walk out after allegations of federal labor violations and 9 months of failed contract negotiations
Inglewood, Calif. — Employees of Flying Food Group Inc. (FFG), a company that provides in-flight meals for many prominent international airlines at Los Angeles International Airport, went out on an unfair labor practice strike today. Cooks, porters and drivers walked out at 3 a.m. and began marching in front of the catering facility. Workers plan to hold picket lines day and night.
Tomorrow, workers will be on the second day of their strike and plan to continue it until their concerns are addressed.
Workers are striking to protest alleged unfair labor practices that FFG has committed in response to the workers’ campaign for a fair contract with decent wages and benefits. Employees have filed eight pending charges, including allegations that the company surveilled union activities, suspended an employee for his union activities and locked multiple emergency exit doors on a day workers planned a picket line protest.
“When I started working for FFG, I was paid only $8 an hour,” said FFG employee Olga Tirado, who has been with the company for 13 years and works in its cold food team. “Now I get paid $18.04 an hour, but it’s still not enough for my family and me to afford to live a dignified life in Los Angeles. And because the company refuses to provide us with pensions, I also worry about our quality of life in retirement.”
“I also feel unsafe and surveilled at work,” she continued. “As we have alleged in our complaints to authorities, one morning in early February the company locked multiple exit doors, including bolting at least one shut from the outside with a metal plate, on the same day that we had organized a peaceful picket outside our workplace. We only wanted to exercise our labor rights but it felt like our employer was getting in the way of that. We are striking because FFG must respect our rights and pay us a fair wage.”
“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 on strike.”
On March 15, employees voted 99 percent in favor of authorizing a strike in protest of FFG’s alleged unfair labor practices and its contract offer. The move comes on the heels of similar actions by teachers and other service workers across the region fighting for better working conditions and against unfair labor practices.
FFG employs more than 350 workers at LAX who prepare and transport in-flight meals to the airplanes of more than a dozen major airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa–and, beginning in April, the luxury Taiwanese airline Starlux. Last year, Flying Food Group earned $46 million in revenue.
Airline catering workers’ collective bargaining agreement with FFG expired last June, and a six-month extension produced little progress during negotiations.
Working Full Time and Functionally Broke
LAX catering workers vote to authorize a strike for higher pay
Airline Catering Workers at Flying Food Group Vote to Authorize Strike, 99% YES
Inglewood, Calif. — Employees of Flying Food Group Inc. (“FFG”), a company that provides in-flight meals at Los Angeles International Airport, voted today 99 percent in favor of authorizing a strike.
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.
March 2023 Union Victories
LAX catering workers claim Inglewood plant exits blocked ahead of pickets
Airport Workers Called on CEOs of North American Commercial Airport Governing Bodies to Help Solve LA’s Housing Crisis
Hundreds Rally Outside Invitation-Only Forum at Five-Star Santa Monica Beachfront Hotel
Santa Monica, Calif. Yesterday, a group of corporate airport executives convened an invitation-only forum at a five-star beachfront hotel while hundreds of airport industry cashiers, cooks, servers and bartenders marched outside, calling on hospitality industry leaders to help solve the city’s escalating housing crisis by supporting an increase to the minimum wage to allow workers to afford rent where they work.
Inspired by the more than 1,000 hotel workers and allies who rallied outside the American Lodging Investment Summit’s annual gathering held downtown two weeks ago, the rallying Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) employees, accompanied by many hotel workers, addressed attendees of the Airports Council International-North America’s 2023 CEO Forum. The event offered “an opportunity to help set the airport industry agenda for 2023” and featured “executive-level discussions on the North American and global state of the industry,” according to its Web site.
Carrying signs that read “Affordable Housing Now!,” “Rent Is Too Damn High!” and “Raise the Minimum Wage,” the airport and hospitality workers pointed to LAX’s current minimum wage of $18.04 an hour as a contributing factor in their—and in other working Angelenos’—inability to afford housing in Los Angeles.
“Although I welcome guests into our beautiful city every day, I can’t afford to live in LA,” said Eleanor Ramos, who’s worked as a bartender at LAX for the last 26 years. “After my apartment building was bought up, my rent went from $925 a month to $1,395 a month overnight. I am barely hanging on to my housing. I’ve seen how many senior citizens have been left homeless and I worry that that will be me someday.”
The current airport minimum wage of $18.04 an hour would require an airport worker to labor 17 hours a day to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles.
“Today, it’s clear that there are two perspectives in the tourism industry,” UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen said. “One of them is in that gathering of airport CEOs inside that hotel, where the bosses are celebrating their historic profits since the start of the pandemic, because airports and hotels are full once again. The other perspective is here, among us. We are not paid enough, and we can’t afford rent. More and more of us are forced to move to cities and towns like California City, Apple Valley and Lancaster because we can’t afford rent here in Los Angeles. That’s an insult and we must change this situation.”
Closing out the evening, and as a nod to the hotel hosting the CEO forum, hotel seamstress and Gardena resident Carmen de Castro spoke of not being able to afford rent in Santa Monica, where her employer is located; of long commute times to and from work; and of an uncertain future.
“It’s not fair that after 18 years of working for this hotel, we can’t count on a secure and adequate retirement,” de Castro said. “It’s not fair that we can’t count on a fair wage to be able to afford rent in the city where we work. That’s why I’m here today, to tell those airport bosses gathered inside that luxury hotel that we demand an increase to the minimum wage, but above all we demand to be treated with dignity and respect!”
Ontario airport concessions workers win protections in new contract