Fil-Am airline caterers prepared to strike for higher wages

SAN FRANCISCO – Airline caterers told the San Francisco Airport Commission Tuesday morning that they are ready to strike unless they receive a higher wage.

Under the existing policy, workers on airport property are required to receive a minimum of $13.52 per hour, but off-site caterers are not covered.

The airport commission will consider extending minimum wages to airline catering workers.

“There are over 1,200 workers that work in that industry that make meals and food for flights in and out of SFO,” said Local 2 President Anand Singh. “Those workers work in sometimes pretty appalling conditions, sweatshop like conditions. Many make the state minimum wage. They don’t have health care or pension and this was a very big first step. Some workers might see a $3-per-hour wage increase once it goes into effect.”

Filipino Americans are among the over 1,000 workers who are optimistic that the airport commission will consider their demands.

“We hope they hear us,” said Chona Enchne. “They hear what the problem is. We work hard and we work good. We need the good salary for us and our family. We need like pay for the rent and a lot of other things.”

The union cites how the airline industry is expected to bring in over $29 billion this year in profit because of the low wages paid to the airline catering workers.

“The airlines are the ones who are negotiating contracts with these caterers,” said Singh. “The airlines are the ones who can afford these kinds of increases. So there are likely to be future actions unless the airlines steps up and does what is right for these workers.”

The union says they will sit down with the other catering companies and the airport commission to avoid a strike and ensure fair compensation.

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