Airline food company ordered to pay living wages to employees

The city of L.A. orders Flying Food, which has operations at LAX, to pay a living wage, plus back wages

An airline catering company with operations at Los Angeles International Airport has failed to pay "living wages" to 271 employees, dating back to 2010, the city of Los Angeles said in a letter that calls for retroactive restitution.

The order from the city's Office of Contract Compliance against Flying Food Group of Chicago comes only weeks after about 100 company employees protested at LAX, where the company serves Air France, China Airlines and Virgin Australia, among other carriers.

The company was also the target of a recent lawsuit from workers, who say they are not being paid the equivalent of roughly $15 an hour in combined wages and benefits called for by the Los Angeles ordinance that requires city contractors to pay a living wage.

Workers said they are being overworked and paid as little as $10.25 per hour.

A representative from Flying Food Group could not be reached for comment.

A representative for a labor group that supported the catering company staff called the decision by the city a victory for hardworking employees.

"The workers have been saying for a long time that they deserve a living wage," said Meghan Cohorst, a spokeswoman for the labor group Unite Here International. "We're happy with the finding and we hope that it is seen through to the end."

The letter does not estimate how much money is due to the 271 workers, but Cohorst estimated that it could be as much as $8 million.

The letter orders the company to pay the employees a living wage and to issue the back wages that the workers failed to get, dating back to May 1, 2010.

The letter ordered the back wages paid within ten days of the company receiving the letter and threatened to end all contracts with the city and ban the company from holding a city lease or license for up to three years if the company did not comply.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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