District 1 Councilman-elect Chad West spoke to airline catering workers at an event earlier this year. Courtesy Unite Here

Business

Catering Workers Serving American Airlines Authorize a Strike

Union members of the locally based LSG Sky Chefs want better healthcare coverage and $15-an-hour wages.

A union representing food prep workers who serve American Airlines is ready to strike. Employees of the LSG Sky Chefs who are part of national hospitality union Unite Here said Wednesday that it has authorized that measure as part of an ongoing fight to get better wages for airport catering workers.

About 825 local employees make up the Sky Chefs, a DFW Airport-based group of catering workers. The union and Sky Chefs have been in bargaining since October and more recently in federal mediation. The talks will go to the National Mediation Board next. If those talks do not end in a resolution, workers will strike. Locally, nearly all—99.3 percent—voted in favor of the strike.

Unite Here is pulling for $15 an hour and affordable healthcare for its 18,000 airline catering employees across the company. The union says workers currently make a median hourly wage of $11.40 and as low as $9.85 an hour. Calculations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology put the minimum living wage at $11.71 an hour for a single adult and $23.99 an hour for an adult with a child.

The union has adopted “one job should be enough” as its battlecry. They contrast their low wages against booming growth from American Airlines, which has pocketed $12 billion in profits over the last five years. A spokesperson from American Airlines says that the airline, a customer of Sky Chefs, respects the right of the catering workers to enter collective bargaining. Given the stage of the negotiations, American doesn’t expect that its catering service will be impacted.

The union said it planned to announce its decision at City Hall on Wednesday. A spokesperson said before the City Council meeting that representatives planned to address Council during the open microphone portion of the meeting.

Several local politicians have publicly backed the raises, including Dallas City Council members Adam Medrano, Omar Narvaez, Scott Griggs, Tennell Atkins, and Philip Kingston. State Sen. Beverly Powell and Reps. Jessica Gonzalez, Ana-Maria Ramos, and Terry Meza also offered support.

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