Airline food workers who prepare, pack, and deliver food and beverages served onboard several major air carriers on Maui and Oʻahu, voted unanimously to strike, according to a union announcement.
The workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 5 and are employed by Gate Gourmet, the second largest airline catering subcontractor in the US. Their work includes preparation and delivery of food for departing flights on American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines.
Union representatives say they will not stop work until authorized by the government.
Later this summer, UNITE HERE will request release to strike from the National Mediation Board, which would be followed by a 30-day cooling off period if granted. “UNITE HERE is prepared to strike whenever it becomes lawful,” the union said in a media statement.
The strike votes in Honolulu and Kahului were part of the largest such vote ever to occur in the U.S. airline catering industry, with thousands of workers voting in 21 cities.
Airline catering workers are seeking improved wages and health care benefits.
“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 Hawaiʻi. I am taking action for my family and for my coworkers so we can have a better life,” said Thien Hoang, a worker in Honolulu employed by Gate Gourmet.
“That workers voted 100% today to strike when released should send a strong message to American, Delta, and United. The median wage of a Gate Gourmet worker in Hawaiʻi is only $12.25 per hour. This has reached a crisis level—airline catering workers in Honolulu and Kahului need meaningful changes, and they need them right now,” said Eric Gill, Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 5.
Union members will participate in their first public informational picket line post-vote on Wednesday, July 3 at Honolulu Airport.
Maui Now reached out to Gate Gourmet via phone this morning and was told that there is no prepared statement to offer at this time. A request for comment was also made via email, but no response was received at the time of this publication. If a comment becomes available, this post will be updated to reflect any new information received.