A historic contract for workers in the airline catering industry has made the skies – and life – a lot more friendly for thousands of UNITE HERE employees many of whom now say they can will be able to get by with one job.
The contract approved by employees at Flying Food Group (FFG) includes affordable health insurance and salary increases that will increase some of their wages to more than $20 per hour by the end of the contract.
More than 700 workers staff the two FFG locations near LAX. At these two enormous kitchens, employees work round the clock to prepare, pack and deliver the food for all of the flights out of one of the nation’s largest and busiest airports. Thanks to the contract ratified by 98% of their workers earlier this week, employees will no longer have to worry about compromising their health to make ends meet in other areas of life. As one employee said “I won’t have to choose between healthcare coverage and paying my rent.”
“I don’t know of another airline catering kitchen in the country where family health insurance premiums are paid 100 percent by the company,” said UNITE HERE Lead Organizer Dylan Daney. “This achievement in health insurance represents a huge step forward in the industry.”
According to Daney, many of the FFG employees are immigrants who are first generation living in Los Angeles. Temperatures can be extreme and the workers who drive the food onto the tarmac to stock the planes face different challenges.
“Right now business is booming at LAX, and those kitchens are using every square inch to prepare thousands of meals per day,” Daney said. “It can be chaotic, it can be hot and it can be dangerous. Many of the people had made wages low enough to qualify for Medi-Cal. Now many of them are going to have private insurance for the first time in their lives.”
For UNITE HERE, the fight for the rights of airline catering workers does not end with this contract victory. FFG workers are lobbying major airlines to make the two largest catering subcontractors – Gate Gourmet and LSG Sky Chefs – compensate their employees fairly as well.