Dozens of unionized catering workers held a quick demonstration at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on July 27 and issued a 72-hour strike notice.
Unite Here Local 40, which represents the workers, said the strike notice came after “a series of fruitless bargaining sessions” and “staff shortages at YVR Airport, which led to heavier workloads for employees and delays for travellers.”
These workers, who are employed by Gate Gourmet – a global provider of airline catering services – are calling for their employer to increase wages in response to record-high inflation and improve healthcare benefits and pensions.
Rolando Gonzales, one of the protestors, told Richmond News he has been working for Gate Gourmet for 26 years at YVR, but his wage is still $22 per hour.
“Because of the inflation right now, we are demanding they give us a fair wage increase to help us deal with the inflation. It’s hard for us to make a living right now,” said Gonzales.
According to Unit Here Local 40, airline catering work includes preparing meals for travellers before boarding planes, delivering, loading and unloading directly on the aircraft with critical turnaround times to ensure flights depart on time.
Gonzales said he wasn’t the only one being treated poorly, his co-workers who have also spent decades working there face similar challenges.
In addition to the poor wage increases, Gonzales noted that the workload is more than before.
“The workload is so much. We are short-staffed and the company doesn’t hire more,” said Gonzales.
Stephanie Fung, a communications organizer for Unit Here Local 40, said they are currently in bargaining with the employer, but the company isn’t making any concessions.
“We are not on the same page right now. So workers have no choice but to strike,” said Fung.
“Especially when you hear from Rolando who makes $22 dollars – it’s not enough.”