LAX Workers Protest Alleged Violation of Minimum Wage Law

Laid-off concessions workers spoke outside LAX’s Terminal 4 on Thursday claiming that multibillion-dollar concessionaire HMS Host is ineligible for rent relief due to an outstanding violation of the LAX living wage law. Workers filed complaints with the City in 2019, alleging a failure to pay the minimum wage to HMS Host workers. Workers have not received any payments to compensate them for the alleged minimum wage violation.

This comes on a day when LAWA is considering an extensive second relief package for concessions companies. To be eligible for relief, concessionaires must be in compliance with all City ordinances.

“No company can get away with paying below the minimum wage here at the airport, especially not the big rich ones like HMS Host,” said Marlene Mendoza who has worked at HMS Host at LAX for 32 years. “If the airport keeps giving them money even if they don’t follow the rules, why would they ever follow the rules?  No more relief for HMS Host!”

HMS Host is the largest operator of airport concessions in the United States. It is owned by Italian giant Autogrill, which is controlled by the billionaire Benetton family and their global holding firm Edizione. Edizione assets were valued at $13.8 billion at the end of 2019.  Autogrill is reportedly negotiating an aid package with the Italian government worth over $350 million dollars.

“For many workers, this back pay is worth hundreds of dollars.  Right now, when we are laid-off indefinitely, this money is more important than ever.  It means food, it means gas, it means shelter.  I can’t believe HMS Host still hasn’t paid us” said Debra Lewis who has worked at HMS Host for 34 years.

Hundreds of laid-off HMS Host are struggling to stay fed, pay rent, and keep their families safe and healthy during the pandemic. Over 90% of LAX concessions workers are people of color.

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