Dozens Arrested as American Airlines Food Workers Rally for Higher Wages Outside Texas HQ

Dozens of people were arrested during a protest against the treatment of American Airlines catering employees, who work for subcontractors, at the airline’s new headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday, August 13, local media reported.

Labor union Unite Here said in a press release that it was protesting “poverty wages” and “unaffordable healthcare” for catering workers in American Airlines’ kitchens.

“One in four workers who provide food and drinks to American Airlines at its hubs and who work for subcontractors LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet earn less than $12 per hour, and on average earn less than employees for the same contractors serving airlines at Delta and United hubs,” Unite Here claimed. The union also said some airline catering workers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport “earn as little as $9.85 per hour.”

The union described part of Tuesday’s event as a “civil disobedience arrest action,” and said a rally and march were also planned. Local media reported that 58 people at the demonstration were arrested, released, and fined.

The Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (Texas AFL-CIO) was also represented at the protest, and on Twitter echoed Unite Here’s claims that “airline catering workers earn poverty wages.” The union said its Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay was among those arrested.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA shared a video showing members expressing solidarity with the protesters in Fort Worth.

In this video, protesters chant “One job should be enough!” as a line of people walk with their hands behind their backs and are motioned into white vans manned by police officers.

The video also shows a man singing as people chant back: “I used to be a human being, but now I’m only a machine.”

In a statement to Storyful, American Airlines said: “We believe in the collective bargaining process, and so we are confident that LSG Sky Chefs and Unite Here will come to an agreement that increases pay and benefits for LSG’s employees and ensures LSG can continue to operate successfully. While we are not part of the ongoing negotiations, we urge both LSG Sky Chefs and Unite Here to bargain in good faith and get a deal done.”

Three days of picketing around the Dallas-Fort Worth area were expected to follow Tuesday’s protest, according to Unite Here. Credit: Texas AFL-CIO via Storyful