Dallas – A labor stoppage by nearly 900 airline catering workers in Dallas-Fort Worth would have a “ripple effect” across the country, leading to flight delays and cancellations during the busy summer travel season, a union leader said.
The caterers, part of the Unite Here union that represents 18,000 workers at airports across the country, will cast votes next week on whether to strike — if a federal agency that regulates interstate commerce gives them authority.
At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the employees work for American Airlines subcontractor LSG Sky Chefs, one of the world’s largest airline catering services. Gate Gourmet is the industry’s other major food supplier.
The companies’ workers are paid some of the lowest wages in the airline industry, at a time of record profits and healthy pay raises for other employees. Many of the workers are immigrants to the U.S.
Airline caterers have been negotiating for a new contract since October. The union wants higher wages and less expensive health insurance premiums.
Airline food service workers are governed by the Railway Labor Act, which is intended to ensure minimal disruptions in the rail and airline industries because of the importance of interstate commerce.ADVERTISING
The act prevents them from striking unless they are given a rare release from mediation by the National Mediation Board. Next week’s vote in 21 cities is the first step in the process.
“A stoppage here in Dallas affects New York City and affects Los Angeles,” said Dallas AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Mark York. “It’s a ripple effect, like throwing a boulder in a pond.”
Advocates for the catering employees see it as a fairness issue.
“It needs to be a living wage,” said Brian Golden, president of the AFL-CIO Tarrant County Central Labor Council.
SOURCE: Arkansas Democrat Gazette