A few hundred workers picketed outside SFO and blocked American Airlines' check-in area on Tuesday to protest working conditions. It was part of a coordinated protest organized by Unite Here at 17 airports across the country on one of the busiest travel days.
"The reason we're here is for health insurance and a pay raise," said Charles Hannan, who works cleaning planes. "We have to work six days per week, so our bodies are beaten. We're tired. We need some kind of health care for our families. We had to get a second job because it's not enough. I mean, American Airlines makes billions of dollars a year in profit. We're just looking for a little bit to get ahead, so we can take care of our families."
The catering workers are employed by LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, which big airlines then subcontract with to provide on-board food and beverages. Although they prepare food for multiple airlines, the group was targeting American Airlines because it's the biggest airline in the industry.
It's part of a coordinated strategy to pressure the airline to step in and influence contract negotiations.
Ted Waechter, a spokesperson for Unite Here Local 2, said there have been instances where the catering companies have said they couldn't resolve an issue without consulting the airline.