Supervisors arrested at SFO union protest

Airline catering workers negotiating for better wages, affordable health care benefits

Supervisors arrested at SFO union protest

Fifty people were arrested Tuesday evening at San Francisco International Airport including San Francisco supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar and Ahsha Safai during a protests for airline catering workers seeking better wages and health care benefits, according to Unite Here Local 2, which represents some of the workers.

Dozens started a sit-in at 4:20 p.m. in Terminal 2 where flights for American Airlines depart and the arrests were made because the demonstrators failed to disperse. Workers and supporters chanted “American Airlines rolling in dough, poverty jobs have got to go,” Ted Waechter with Unite Here Local 2 said.

The 50 arrested included San Francisco Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar and Ahsha Safai.

Catering worker Malia Salt said, “I took arrest today because even though I load drinks and snacks onto carts for American Airlines, my health care is so unaffordable that I’m afraid to go to the doctor.”

“All the bills have left me in thousands of dollars of medical debt, while American Airlines makes billions. It’s time for American Airlines to make my health care affordable,” Salt said.

American Airlines issued a statement saying, “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.

The catering workers are in pay negotiations with LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, however, catering and workers and supporters called on American Airlines Tuesday to “lead the way,” Waechter said. American Airlines sets the menu, they “can also set the standard,” he said.

“Ultimately the airlines are profiting” off of the work of the caterers. American Airlines added 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.”

The sit-in followed a protest by more than 350 workers and supporters in front of the terminal. The 350 included cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, luggage handlers and other airport service workers, all who supported the caterers.

The demonstration Tuesday was on one of the busiest travel days of the year. In the Bay Area, it also happened to be the first rainstorm of the season. The power went out at Oakland International Airport and flight delays and cancellations occurred at San Francisco International Airport.

Unite Here Local 2 President Anand Singh said in a statement, “We’re protesting on this busy travel day because we want American Airlines passengers to know that poverty wages and unaffordable health care are unacceptable.”

Tuesday’s demonstration was the latest in a series of protests at the nations airports to call attention to American Airlines, union officials said.

San Francisco police, who made the arrests, could not be reached to confirm the number of people arrested.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Bay Area Newssan francisco news

Just Posted

A large crack winds its way up a sidewalk along China Basin Street in Mission Bay on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s sinking sidewalks: Is climate change to blame?

‘In the last couple months, it’s been a noticeable change’

For years, Facebook employees have identified serious harms and proposed potential fixes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have rejected the remedies, causing whisteblowers to multiple. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)
Facebook’s problems at the top: Social media giant is not listening to whistleblowers

Whistleblowers multiply, but Zuckerberg and Sandberg don’t heed their warnings

Maria Jimenez swabs her 7-year-old daughter Glendy Perez for a COVID-19 test at Canal Alliance in San Rafael on Sept. 25. (Penni Gladstone/CalMatters)
Rapid COVID-19 tests in short supply in California

‘The U.S. gets a D- when it comes to testing’

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

A new ruling will thwart the growth of solar installation companies like Luminalt, which was founded in an Outer Sunset garage and is majority woman owned. (Philip Cheung, New York Times)
A threat to California’s solar future and diverse employment pathways

A new ruling creates barriers to entering the clean energy workforce

Most Read