By Levi Sumagaysay
Food-service workers at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday ended a three-day strike that shut down most of the restaurants and eateries at the busy airport, after being promised what their union called “significant raises,” free family healthcare and more.
The hospitality workers’ union, Unite Here Local 2, and a consortium of airport restaurants reached a tentative deal late Wednesday, according to a union spokesperson. The 1,000 workers affected are scheduled to vote on the contract Sunday.
“All the hard work and sacrifice of the strike has paid off for my family,” Blanca Gay, a snack bar attendant at SFO for 30 years and a member of the local bargaining committee, said in a statement.
See: ‘Everything is up but our wages’: Airport and airline workers speak out worldwide about ‘ridiculous’ conditions
Details of the contract are not yet public, but Unite Here Local 2 spokesman Ted Waechter said Thursday that “we really accomplished all our goals.” The union said a majority of the workers’ wages under the previous contract was $17.05 an hour, and that their employers were proposing that workers contribute to the cost of healthcare.
The strike closed down most of the places travelers could buy a meal at the airport, such as Boudin Bakeries and Ladle & Leaf, and caused the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to call a special hearing this week. Supervisors heard testimony from cashiers, baristas, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders and others who told stories about how they hadn’t seen a raise in three years and how many of them have to work two or three jobs.
The supervisors pressed employers and said that if those conditions continued, they would more closely scrutinize who gets leases at the airport, according to Waechter. The supervisors’ attention, plus the nearly total strike that brought most of the workers to the picket lines, really “brought pressure to bear,” Waechter said.
A representative for the at least 84 food and drink outlets and 30 contractors that employ the hospitality workers did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday. Some workers are employed directly by the restaurants, while others are employed by larger contractors such as Compass Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/200043088/delayed UK:CPG -0.32% and Flix.
Also this week, flight attendants for United Airlines Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite UAL -2.77% and Southwest Airlines Co. /zigman2/quotes/201071949/composite LUV -4.41% held actions at SFO and other airports as they asked for higher pay and changes to scheduling policies.