This month has seen more protests from airline employees as they fight for better wages and affordable healthcare. At the end of June employees of Eulen America, a private contractor for American Airlines and Delta went on strike at four airports across the U.S. Workers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Miami International Airport (MIA), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) picketed with a request for what they called “safer and fairer working conditions.” Now American Airlines catering employees are fighting a similar battle as they call for better wages.
Airline catering workers, those who make and load all the food and drinks served on flights, are calling for an increase in wages to a minimum wage of $15 an hour and improved medical coverage. On August 13, protestors blocked the driveway to American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The protesting employees are not employed directly by American Airlines but rather a third-party company called LSG Sky Chefs. However, protestors feel that the airline company, as LSG Sky Chefs’ largest customer, has a responsibility for the wages that the contractors receive and the power to influence LSG Sky Chefs in wage negotiations.
American Airlines has tried to stay out of the dispute, stating that they do not control the wages of contractors but that they “would like the catering vendor and the union to reach agreement as soon as possible,” according to The Boston Globe. The reported quoted LSG Sky Chef’s response, “We remain committed to negotiating in good faith, and we hope that union members will act lawfully as they exercise their right to demonstrate or protest.”
Permission for further strikes have been filed by Unite Here! and are awaiting approval by the National Mediation Board, an indication that protestors and their representing union have no intention of slowing down. Negotiations are ongoing between workers and their contracting company with a federal mediator, but protestors vowed to continue the strike. Testimonials from many workers, found on the Unite Here!, state that one fourth of employees are being paid less than $12 an hour and some have to choose between paying rent or medical insurance. If negotiations are not met, strikes could continue at airports across the country, grounding or delaying planes and ultimately affecting travelers everywhere.