Labor Day Kickoff: LAX Workers Vote 99% to Authorize Strike

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.”


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.

Just in Time for Christmas, HMS Host Workers in Three Cities Ratify New Contracts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 24, 2021

Food workers at Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Orange County airports win significant raises and improved job security

Airport food workers with UNITE HERE Local 11 voted to ratify new contracts with HMS Host Thursday at Los Angeles International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, and John Wayne Orange County airports.

All three two-year agreements lift workers at the bottom of the payscale to livable wages and establish stronger job security and anti-discrimination protections.

The ratification Thursday also averts a potential strike authorized this past Monday by American Airlines Admirals Club lounge workers employed by HMS Host at LAX.

“I love my job and what I do, but the money I’ve been making hasn’t been enough to live on,” said Evelyn Torres, an LAX lounge attendant. “I voted yes to go on strike if we had to, and I’m so proud that now we have a new agreement and we’re getting the raises we actually deserve.”

Workers in Phoenix won an agreement that dramatically improves health insurance cost-sharing for employees—a critical point for many who were on strike for 10 days during the peak of Thanksgiving travel last month.

“The health insurance alone will be life-changing for me and my family,” said Lucia Salinas, a cook at Cowboy Ciao at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. “After fighting for a contract for about four years, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that we have what we need and deserve.”

“The pandemic, being unemployed, years of going without—it’s been hard. But we’ve kept fighting to get through it. Knowing what we’ve won shows that it was all worth it,” said Reyna Gonzalez, a cook for HMS Host at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

HMS Host is the single largest concessionaire at LAX, Sky Harbor, and John Wayne airports—employing nearly 1300 workers at dozens of restaurants and all on-airport Starbucks stores. HMS Host workers also staff the American Airlines Admirals Club and American Eagle lounges at LAX.