Airline catering workers with LSG Sky Chefs protested at more than a dozen airports around the country Tuesday afternoon, including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, lobbying American Airlines for better pay and better healthcare.
The employees are members of UNITE HERE Local 23, a union representing roughly 4,100 Sky Chefs workers who are subcontracted to provide catering service to American Airlines.
"The day of protests is set to be the latest in a series of escalating demonstrations by airline catering workers at U.S. airports," Local 23 said in a news release. "Though their work is essential to airline operations, one in four workers who provide food and drinks to American Airlines at its hubs and who work for subcontractors LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet earn less than $12 per hour, including many who have been in their jobs for over a decade."
Of those 4,100 workers nationwide, Local 23 said 30% were uninsured and 35% relied on government-subsidized healthcare for their families.
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The workers said they want American Airlines to put pressure on their subcontractor, LSG Sky Chefs, to pay their employees more and offer better healthcare.
Of course, that likely means American Airlines, who is not actively involved in the labor discussions, would have to agree to pay Sky Chefs more for the catering service.
Local 23 reps said American Airlines reported a profit of $1.9 billion last year and can afford to pay subcontractors more for their work.
Sky Chefs, meanwhile, sent a statement Monday to NBC 5 saying the negotiations for better pay and healthcare began in May and that the company, "has offered improvements in wages and is discussing numerous other issues covered by our collective bargaining agreement. While this is a short period of time to negotiate a complex labor agreement, we feel progress is being made with the help of the federal mediator."
American Airlines released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.
"We are confident that, with the ongoing assistance of federal mediators, the catering companies and UNITE HERE will negotiate new nationwide agreements that increase pay and benefits. We understand that new labor contracts between UNITE HERE and LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet will result in increased costs for their many airline customers, including American. We are not in a position to control the outcome of their negotiations or dictate what wages or benefits are agreed upon between the catering companies and their employees. "
Dozens of Local 23 protesters were arrested and fined in August during a protest outside of American Airlines' headquarters in Fort Worth when they sat in the roadway blocking an entrance to the building. A similar act of civil disobedience is planned for Tuesday.
Tuesday's protest by Local 23 will be in DFW's Terminal D and at more than a dozen other airports nationwide -- including AA hubs in Chicago, Miami, Charlotte, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Philadelphia and Washington D.C.