Phoenix, AZ – Hundreds of food and beverage workers employed by SSP America at Sky Harbor Airport walk out on strike. Cashiers, cooks, bartenders, servers, dishwashers, and baristas from well-known airport eateries, such as Matt’s Big Breakfast, Pita Jungle, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Four Peaks Brewing Co., are on strike for better wages and benefits and plan to hold picket lines at the terminals.
SSP America is contracted by the City of Phoenix to operate food and beverage concessions at the city-owned airport. The contractor employs over 400 workers in both terminals, both pre-and post-security.
Workers’ collective bargaining agreement with SSP America expired on May 31st. Despite the union’s proposals during negotiations, the company has not made significant movement on much-needed wage increases, health insurance contributions, and working conditions.
Last month, SSP America was also the subject of two complaints with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) reporting what appeared to be rats at Dunkin’ Donuts and cockroaches at Matt’s Big Breakfast and Pei Wei. Per their lease contract with the City of Phoenix, SSP America is responsible for exterminating and preventing the presence of rodents and other vermin within the premises.
In addition, workers filed multiple federal labor charges against SSP America alleging unlawful disciplinary actions, unilateral changes, and unlawful surveillance.
Los Angeles: Areas at LAX employs cashiers, dishwashers, cooks, bartenders, and food attendants at concessions concepts, such as Homeboy Bakery, Dunkin Donuts, Urth Cafe, California Pizza Kitchen, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Ford’s in all terminals, including the Tom Bradley International terminal.
“My entire family works for AREAS USA–myself, my sister, my brother, and my mom. None of us make enough money to survive,” said Cecilia Otea, barista at Urth Bar. “All of us have to work and live together to afford living in LA. I’m voting yes to strike so my entire family can have a better life.”
Workers’ collective bargaining agreement with Areas expired on June 30th, 2022. Their primary contract demands include livable wages to keep pace with the soaring cost of housing, a pension to retire with dignity, and fair staffing.
During the pandemic, airport concessionaires received over $1 billion in federal relief and cut staffing. While the industry has more than recovered, workers struggle to afford a place to live near where they work. Airport workers live as far away as Lancaster, California City, and Bakersfield.
Workers could walk out any day starting Labor Day weekend, joining thousands of hotel workers, also represented by UNITE HERE Local 11, who have engaged in a wave of strikes since the 4th of July weekend.
“Workers all over the city have reached their breaking point,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “The travel and tourism industry exploited the pandemic and continues to rake in profits while their workers, the ones who actually make all this possible, are left living paycheck to paycheck, one emergency away from homelessness. It’s time the industry pays workers their fair share and if workers have to strike to make that happen, they will.”
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!