LAX concession workers vote to strike over wage dispute – Daily News

on Dec22
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Nearly 70 Los Angeles International Airport concession workers who say their pay isn’t keeping pace with inflation have voted to strike and may announce a walkout any day, union officials said.

The employees, who work in American Airlines’ three Admirals Club lounges, voted Monday with 98% in favor of a strike. They are employed by HMSHost and represented by Unite Here Local 11.

The LAX concession employees plan to gather on the upper departure level of Terminal 4 early Wednesday, Dec. 22 for an all-day picket, supported by hundreds of other food workers who are employed by a half-dozen other airport concessions companies at LAX.

The concession workers have accused HMS of dragging out their labor dispute, causing many long-term workers to go without a raise for more than three years, except for pay increases required by the airport’s minimum-wage law.

“They’re offering us 75 cents, but we’re asking for more,” said HMS employee Hugo Sanchez. “The company doesn’t want to offer us more money, but everything is really expensive right now, like food, rent, gas and insurance … the last raise I got was almost four years ago.”

Sanchez currently earns $19.75 an hour.

In a statement released Tuesday, HMSHost said it already pays 100% of employee healthcare and is offering to increase wages and benefits to at least $24.94 an hour in 2021 and $25.44 in 2022.

“HMSHost is also offering to make the 2021 wage increase retroactive to October 2018, providing lump-sum payments to its valued employees,” the statement said. “Sadly, the union has refused to consider this offer, having walked away from the negotiating table on Nov. 3 and not providing a counteroffer.”

HMS also indicated there is a labor-peace agreement in place between the two sides, which would bar the workers from taking any action that would disrupt operations at the airport.

Unite Here acknowledged it signed a labor-peace agreement with HMS in 2009 concerning the concessionaire leases it had at that time. But that agreement doesn’t apply to employees working at American’s Admirals Club lounges, the union said, so they can strike without penalty.

“It has been our longstanding position that the labor peace agreement signed in 2009 applies only to Host’s leased concession operations and does not apply to Host’s contract to operate the American Airlines lounges,” Unite Here said.

HMS said the union’s actions threaten to disrupt holiday travel for passengers moving through LAX.

“We want to get the deal done to take care of our people,” the company said. “This move simply jeopardizes the members at LAX and withholds valuable wage increases and benefits from them.”

HMS workers represented by Unite Here at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport went on strike for 10 days during the height of last month’s Thanksgiving travel time over issues related to pensions, affordable health care and wages.

American’s Admirals Club lounges cater to travelers with an American Airlines lounge membership or those with a one-day pass. Depending upon location, travelers can get complimentary snacks and access shower suites, satellite TV and flight information, among other amenities. Full meals and drinks are also available for sale.

HMSHost, a division of Italian catering company Autogrill S.p.A., is the largest concessionaire at LAX, employing nearly 700 workers at dozens of restaurants in most terminals and in Starbucks stores.



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