(RESTON, Va.) –Gate Gourmet employees, D.C. Jobs with Justice, local faith leaders, and union representatives from the Teamsters and UNITE-HERE delivered a message to Gate Gourmet at its U.S. headquarters and GateGroup CEO Andrew Gibson on Thursday, calling on the company to provide a real wage increase and affordable health care for thousands of workers across the country.
National mediation between the company and unions begins today in Phoenix, after workers rejected a July 2013 offer that would have forced vulnerable working-class families into poverty. The workers, who earn on average $10.84 per hour, have been in negotiations with their employer for more than a year.
“Gate Gourmet wants to force a family health care plan on us that would cost us between 50 and 80 percent of our paychecks,” said 20-year Gate Gourmet employee Jose Ramirez. “How are we supposed to feed our families?”
Frontline Gate Gourmet workers prepare, package and deliver meals to more than 300 million passengers of 270 airlines each year. About 5,000 are represented by the Teamsters Union at 20 facilities in the U.S. An additional 2,000 employees are represented by UNITE-HERE. Members of both unions are covered by a national labor agreement.
“It is unconscionable that Gate Gourmet profits off the labor of workers who feed airline passengers, yet refuses to pay the same workers enough to buy food for themselves and their families,” said Ari Schwartz of D.C. Jobs with Justice. “That is why we are here today, to tell GateGroup that Gate Gourmet must stand up as a good corporate citizen and that our communities will not stand for this kind of treatment.”
“Gate Gourmet has a moral obligation to provide a real wage increase for its workers,” said Steve Vairma, Teamster Warehouse Division Director and International Vice President. “So far, Gate Gourmet has offered to raise health care costs for a plan that workers’ can’t afford and sidestep the fact it is forcing its own employees into an impossible financial position.”
The Teamsters Union flew an airplane banner over Gate Gourmet’s Reston headquarters that read, “Gate Gourmet: Don’t Starve Families.”
Gate Gourmet is owned by Switzerland-based GateGroup, which earned $3.3 billion in revenues in 2012. Gate Gourmet operates 122 flight kitchens in 28 countries, as well as for customers such as Amtrak. The company serves 309 million passengers annually.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.