SFO food worker protest may impact travel plans Friday – SFGATE

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Anyone flying out of San Francisco International Airport on Friday should plan on getting there early — and maybe packing some snacks — as the airport’s food service workers are holding a demonstration to advocate for higher wages. The planned action includes blocking traffic near the airport between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. 

Fast food workers at SFO have been in negotiations with the SFO Airport Restaurant Employer Council for nine months, fighting for an increase in wages that they say are too low for most workers to stay afloat, along with better health care and retirement benefits.

“Many of these workers are working two or sometimes even three jobs just to make ends meet,” said Anand Singh, president of UNITE HERE Local 2, which represents the workers. “That means that they’re living on three to four hours of sleep, giving up time with their kids, simply because they can’t live off their jobs at SFO.” 

Most food service workers at SFO make $17.05 an hour, Singh said. That’s more than $2.00 less than the city’s minimum compensation ordinance rate of $19.15 per hour, which the union says should apply to workers at the airport. 

“They’re fed up with the inaction of their employers who, after nine months of bargaining, continue to put forward totally unacceptable proposals,” Singh said. 

Hundreds of SFO’s fast food workers and supporters are planning to show up for the protest Friday. The airport has issued a free speech permit to UNITE HERE Local 2 for the planned time, according to a spokesperson for SFO.

“Employees will be picketing, expressing their frustration and talking to the traveling public about why they’re striking,” Singh said. “We’re advising travelers to bring their own food when they travel in and out of SFO.”

Following the demonstration, a worker strike is “very likely,” Singh said. He added that union-represented SFO employees, who work in all types of roles within the airport’s restaurants, voted by a margin of 99.7% to authorize a strike. 

“Everyone from cashiers, cooks, baristas, bartenders, servers, dishwashers — essentially, every worker in any one of these outlets is impacted by this,” Singh said.


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