Airline Catering Workers’ Union Calls Foul on American Airlines’ Largest Contractor, LSG Sky Chefs

March 31, 2022
Airline catering company intends to slash employees’ monthly cash earnings by more than $900.

UNITE HERE Local 11, the airline catering workers’ union, protested at Los Angeles International Airport Terminal 4, where LSG Sky Chefs’ largest client, American Airlines, operates.

American Airlines’ largest contractor recently announced to its nearly 600 workers at its LAX kitchens a unilateral change to go into effect on April 1 that could result in slashing cash earnings by up to 25% per month for each employee. LSG Sky Chefs failed to bargain with the union regarding the change, as is required by the collective bargaining agreement.

“I am a single mother and it is already hard to make ends meet,” said Lorena Mendez, Equipment Assembly workers for Sky Chefs, “The prices of gasoline and groceries have gone up and when Sky Chefs makes this change, I will not be able to afford to pay my mortgage. I’m afraid I will lose my house.”

“This is a selfish, morally bankrupt move by both corporations - American Airlines and LSG Sky Chefs,” said Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, “American Taxpayers supported the airlines through the pandemic through the payroll support program. American Airlines needs to take responsibility and do right by all the workers in their ecosystem. They have the power to call on their contractor to stop the implementation of this decision.”

These changes come at a moment when increases in the prices of basic needs like food, gas, and housing are at the highest they have been in 40 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Lufthansa Group reported in its 2021 Annual Report that its catering business segment, which includes LSG Sky Chefs, made nearly $30 million in earnings before interest and taxes. At LAX, more than twice as many passengers returned in January 2022, when compared to January 2021, the middle of the pandemic.

“What Sky Chefs is doing is economic violence to you and your families, said Los Angeles city council member Mike Bonin to the crowd of workers Wednesday, “It is wrong to take money from you and your families. It is easy to call you essential workers, but it’s not real unless they pay you like essential workers. I’m here today to say to Sky Chefs, ‘Don’t do this.’ I’m here to say to American Airlines, ‘Tell them not to do this.’”

Bonin addressed the workers prior to the action to express his support. Workers called on American Airlines to stop the company that prepares the meals for American’s planes from implementing this unacceptable decision. American Airlines is Sky Chefs’ largest national contractor.