More than 100 workers who prepare food for airlines flying out of Los Angeles International Airport went on strike Tuesday, saying they are overworked and lack the proper equipment to do their jobs, union organizers said.
The strike by employees of airline caterer Flying Food Group is scheduled to last until about 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to the labor union Unite Here, which is supporting the workers.
Unite Here said Chicago-based Flying Food Group supplies meals for international flights and that the strike could delay flights or cause reduced food and beverage service. Airlines that could be affected include Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, China Airlines and Virgin Australia.
A spokeswoman for China Airlines said there were no delays as of late Tuesday afternoon. A representative for Virgin Australia said there was no disruption to flight departures or food and beverage service.
Air France and Air Tahiti Nui could not be reached for comment.
For years, Flying Food employees have raised concerns to their bosses that there is not enough staff to handle the crushing demand to supply flights with meals, said Meghan Cohorst, a spokeswoman with Unite Here.
“Workers say the response is “Oh, we will get it soon; we’ll have it tomorrow, next week.’ But it never happens,” she said.
To compensate, Cohorst said, workers often must toil for 12 to 15 hours daily to ensure airline passengers have meals on their flights. As the airport enters a busy season, work demands are intensifying, she said.
Packer Morena Henriquez said in a news release that “adding just one more flight to our workload can mean a thousand more meals for us to prepare. Sometimes four people are expected to do the work of seven, so even before the busy season we were working 12 to 15 hour days inside of a [30-degree] cooler to get it all done.”
Workers also say they don’t have enough utensils, machinery and meal ingredients to do their jobs properly.
A representative from Flying Food Group did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Follow me on Twitter: @khouriandrew