50 people were arrested Tuesday, including three San Francisco supervisors, for failing to disperse from a sit-in at SFO's Terminal 2. The protest was staged by Unite Here Local 2, a union that represents some airline catering workers at the airport, who are pushing for higher wages and more affordable healthcare.
The union is in negotiations with two companies, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and the protesters on Tuesday were calling for American Airlines in particular to "lead the way," as union rep Ted Waechter tells KPIX. Amid weather-related delays at the airport, the protest was one of multiple disruptions for holiday travelers at SFO yesterday evening.
SF Supervisors Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, and Ahsha Safai joined the sit-in, which began around 4:20 p.m. and followed a larger protest outside Terminal 2 involving around 350 people, also including other workers like cabin cleaners and luggage handlers.
As the San Francisco Business Times reports, the sit-in protesters were arrested for violating their free-speech permit, which had allowed them only to protest outside the terminal. And the protest was just one of many across the country Tuesday by airline catering workers.
The protesters at the Terminal 2 sit-in were chanting, "American Airlines rolling in dough, poverty jobs have got to go." Supervisor Mar boasted about his arrest on Twitter, saying, "Today I was arrested in solidarity with airline workers, and alongside @UniteHereLocal2, labor leaders and @MattHaneySF. As millions of people fly this week to be with their friends and families, workers preparing the meals for those flights live in poverty."
Haney similarly tweeted from the protest, saying, "Many of the folks who work at the airport live in my district. I stand with them and their families in saying: One job should be enough!"
Today I was arrested in solidarity with airline workers, and alongside @UniteHereLocal2, labor leaders and @MattHaneySF. As millions of people fly this week to be with their friends and families, workers preparing the meals for those flights live in poverty. pic.twitter.com/o6QfzKZGGU— Gordon Mar (@D4GordonMar) November 27, 2019
With @UniteHereLocal2 airline catering workers at SFO in support of their contract fight for health care and a fair, livable wage. Many of the folks who work at the airport live in my district. I stand with them and their families in saying: One job should be enough! pic.twitter.com/Vzo9bCzIIu— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) November 27, 2019
Catering worker Malia Salt tells KPIX, "My health care is so unaffordable that I’m afraid to go to the doctor." She added, "It’s time for American Airlines to make my healthcare affordable."
American Airlines issued a statement Tuesday in response to the protest saying, "New labor contracts between Unite Here and LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet will result in increased costs for their many airline customers, including American. We are not in a position to control the outcome of their negotiations or dictate what wages or benefits are agreed upon between the catering companies and their employees."