Airline food workers in Honolulu and Maui voted to authorize a strike along with thousands of airline catering industry workers across 21 of nation’s cities
The vote, which occurred Tuesday and Wednesday, could affect American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines flights departing from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Kahului Airport if Unite Here Local 5 workers act on the strike vote when released by the National Mediation Board.
Local 5 said negotiations are ongoing, but so far have failed to secure better wages and health care benefits for union workers in Hawaii and elsewhere. In Hawaii, workers are employed by Gate Gourmet, the second-largest airline catering subcontractor in the U.S.
Eric Gill, Local 5 financial secretary-treasurer said the median wage of a Gate Gourmet worker in Hawaii is only $12.25.
“This has reached a crisis level — airline catering workers in Honolulu and Kahului need meaningful changes, and they need them right now,” Gill said in a statement. “That workers voted 100% … to strike when released should send a strong message to American, Delta, and United.”
Local 5 said workers will participate in their first public informational picket line post-vote on July 3 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, but won’t stop working until authorized by the government.
Later this summer, Local 5 will request permission to strike from the National Mediation Board, which would be followed by a 30-day cooling-off period if granted.
The union said it is prepared to strike once the labor action becomes lawful.
“I have worked at Gate Gourmet for 26 years, but I still make less than $16 an hour. One job should be enough to live in Hawaii. I am taking action for my family and for my coworkers so we can have a better life,” Thien Hoang, a worker in Honolulu employed by Gate Gourmet, said in a statement.
Gate Gourmet did not respond to calls from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.