Los Angeles International Airport Catering Workers Protest Wage Cuts

April 1, 2022

Catering workers who service flights at Los Angeles International Airport picketed the airport late Wednesday to protest a new health plan they say could slash monthly earnings for employees by as much as $900.

The LSG SkyChefs workers, represented by Unite Here Local 11, said the company failed to bargain with the union regarding the change, as required by their collective bargaining agreement. The shift, which takes effect Friday, April 1, impacts nearly 600 employees at SkyChef’s LAX kitchens.

Unite Here spokesman Juan Munoz said SkyChefs previously allotted $5.67 a month for employee healthcare coverage on top of their regular $17-an-hour wage. Many used that allotment to secure coverage through Covered California, a plan that provides health insurance for eligible recipients at federally subsidized rates.

“Now they’re pulling that back and forcing employees into a company-run plan with a high yearly deductible of $1,500,” Munoz said.

Workers could previously choose a health plan that best suited their needs, the union said, but now that has been taken away and employees will pay more to include coverage for family members.

Zero premium supplement

In a statement issued Wednesday, SkyChefs said the new plan comes with a “zero premium supplement.”

“This co-pay healthcare plan will allow our associates to have access to a qualified healthcare plan without having to worry about paying any premiums,” the company said. “Since we are providing zero-premium healthcare coverage to all of our LAX employees, we will discontinue the hourly supplement, also effective April 1.”

The coverage will be provided in compliance with the Los Angeles World Airports living wage ordinance. That requires companies to provide either no-premium healthcare coverage, or an hourly supplement for healthcare.

‘Impossible decisions’

Malissa Sanchez, who has been employed by SkyChefs for three years, said she’s been paying $168 a month for health coverage for herself and her husband. The new plan will amount to a 25% reduction in wages, she said, or $900 less a month.

“That $900 a month is exactly how much I pay for child care while I’m at work,” the 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said. “I’ve thought about leaving my job because I won’t be able to pay for child care. With the cost of gas and everything being so high … I feel it’s unfair that I have to make these impossible decisions.”

Amparo Ramirez, another SkyChefs worker, is facing the same situation.

“This will be a real big impact,” Ramirez said.


In September 2021, SkyChefs announced it was preparing to lay off more than 500 workers at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Ana.

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In a July 28 letter sent to state employment officials, Employee Relations and Compliance Manager Tracey Harness said the pandemic made it hard to accurately assess staffing needs.

Harness said the “unpredictable nature of the current global pandemic” made it tough to accurately predict how many cuts would have to be made. They were expected to impact a variety of jobs, ranging from food production coordinators, sous chefs, supply clerks and utility workers, to vehicle mechanics, storekeepers, food-equipment handlers and account managers, among other positions.

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