Coalition of Gate Gourmet Workers Educate Passengers About Abuses of the Largest In-flight Caterer in the US
Kara DenizEmail: [email protected] Phone: (202) 624-6911
(DULLES, Va. and ATLANTA) – Today, hundreds of Gate Gourmet employees and representatives of the Teamsters and UNITE-HERE unions alerted air passengers about unsafe conditions in the airline food catering industry, at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and at the United Airlines [NASDAQ: UAL] terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
In Atlanta, Gate Gourmet employees held signs that said, “Gate Gourmet: Stop the Discrimination.” They also distributed leaflets describing how Gate Gourmet does not pay its workers enough to live, and that workers get no paid sick leave the first year on the job.
Gate Gourmet is owned by Switzerland-based Gategroup, which earned $4.6 billion last year.
“We did a survey and discovered that 73 percent of Gate Gourmet workers have put off paying bills in order to be able to afford groceries. In addition, 74 percent reported having come to work while sick. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, workers get three weeks of paid sick leave in their very first year on the job,” said Maurice Cobb, President of Teamsters Local 528 in Georgia. “For the last year we have been trying to negotiate a contract with wages that give workers a fair return on their work, but the company has been unwilling to do so.”
At Dulles, Gate Gourmet employees held signs that said, “Food Alert at United Airlines and Gate Gourmet.” They also distributed leaflets explaining that United Airlines is earning record profits and could ensure that the company it uses for food service, Gate Gourmet, pays its workers enough so they no longer have to cut back on food, doctors’ visits and medicine.
Seven thousand Gate Gourmet employees are represented by the Teamsters Union and UNITE-HERE at 20 different facilities across the United States. Workers represented by the two unions are covered by a single collective bargaining agreement.
“Both Gategroup and United Airlines are earning billions. We do the work that earns the profits, and it’s unconscionable that Gate Gourmet will not give us a fair return on our work so we can put food on our families’ tables,” said Joseph Lucvil, a driver for Gate Gourmet at Dulles and a member of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C.
Front-line Gate Gourmet workers prepare, package and deliver meals to 300 million passengers of 270 airlines each year. Gate Gourmet’s U.S.-based workers earn, on average, $12 per hour less than the living wage for the D.C. metro area, and get zero paid sick days in their first year on the job. They are asking for a real wage increase and a fair contract. Almost 20 percent are paid less than $10 per hour. Workers have been negotiating with the company for a new contract for the past year.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.