Concessionaire faces wage class action and a million-dollar bill for worker health insurance, while hundreds of airport workers remain laid off
Los Angeles, CA: Sixty laid off LAX workers took to their cars Thursday to caravan through the airport with horns, lights, and signs that say “HMS Host Pay Up.” The protest came ahead of a move by the airport authority Board of Airport Commission to grant the company a valuable lease extension. HMS Host has been the subject of controversy and criticism from its own employees in recent months.
“During the pandemic, HMS Host has repeatedly failed to live up to its most basic obligations towards its workers. When its workers needed them most, HMS Host turned its back,” said UNITE HERE Local 11 Director Robin Rodriguez.
This October, Host workers filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging it failed to pay wages they are owed under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, despite numerous complaints from employees. The still-pending lawsuit also alleges that Host also failed to comply with California labor laws requiring employers to pay final wages to terminated employees immediately.
Following worker complaints, the Los Angeles City Council voted down a financial package for HMS Host estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars in lease extension-related revenue and rent relief.
Workers are now drawing attention to HMS Host’s alleged failure to make healthcare contributions to help maintain health care coverage for its laid-off workers. A health benefit fund covering its employees has informed HMS Host that it is delinquent in paying more than a million dollars in benefit contributions required under a City rent relief program for airport concessionaires.
“My family and I have had to make many sacrifices during this pandemic to make ends meet and it scares me to think I could lose my healthcare if HMS Host does not pay up what it should,” said Carlos Castillo, a bartender at HMS Host at LAX for 21 years.
HMS Host is the largest operator of airport concessions in North America and at LAX. Its parent company, Autogrill, is owned by a family of Italian multi-billionaires whose holding corporation had assets valued at $13.8 billion last year.
HMS Host workers at LAX are over 90% people of color (including over 20% Black) and live in the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of its LAX workforce remains laid off.