Caterers who prepare food for a trio of major airlines flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport may strike as they negotiate for better pay and health insurance coverage. Unite Here Local 1 represents workers at America, Delta, and United airlines who prepare and pack in-flight meals. On Friday, union members voted to authorize a strike as they pressure their employers during collective bargaining.
Overall, Unite represents airport workers at 21 cities and workers in 13 of those cities have voted to authorize a strike. They’re negotiating toward better health care insurance for workers and said 25 percent of workers don’t have coverage at all. Meanwhile, 52 percent have said their children and dependents don’t have insurance. A work stoppage isn’t a foregone conclusion as the union amps the pressure during negotiations.
The Independence Day holiday is a busy day for America’s airports, which is why the union is scheduling informational picketing on July 3 at O’Hare. The union said 98 percent of its members voted in favor of a strike. Union members have two employers: LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet. The Tribune reported Unite’s been negotiating with Gate Gourmet since October. An LSG rep said they’ve been negotiating since October and with a mediator since May. According to the Trib, the union wants hourly wages to be raised to $15. LSG workers earn $13.80 and Gate Gourmet’s earn $12.15.
United told the paper they’ve prepped a contingency plan in case of a strike. Gate Gourmet said negotiations could take time, but they want a fast resolution.