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!
Flying Food Group catering workers are on strike, serving up demands for justice, a fair contract, and a stop to unfair labor practices!
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.
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.