41 arrested — including two S.F. supes — at SFO food worker rally. Is a strike next?

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Forty one protesters were arrested outside SFO’s Terminal 3 on Friday after blocking traffic as hundreds of food workers and their supporters rallied for better pay.

There are around 1,000 fast food workers including baristas, cooks, servers and bartenders at SFO. Their union Unite Here Local 2 said they haven’t a raise and have been without an updated contract for three years. The average pay is $17.05 per hour, not enough to survive on in the Bay Area, according to the union.

SFO lost the most passengers out of any U.S. airport during the first year of the pandemic, though it’s seen a partial recovery this summer.

Unite Here Local 2 said contract talks with restaurant operators have been unproductive over nine months and in August, 99.7% of workers voted overwhelmingly in August to authorize a strike, though one has not started.

A representative for the SFO food businesses, which span 84 different food outlets and 30 different employers, didn’t immediately respond for request for comment about the protest.

Protesters held signs that said “one job should be enough” and chanted, “Whose airport? Our airport.”

“I have to work two jobs to support my family, and I’m exhausted from living on four hours of sleep a day,” said Lucinda To, a lounge attendant at the United Club and a server at Cat Cora’s Kitchen. “I’m making $16.99 per hour even though a meal at the airport costs at least $20. I hope this protest will show people that workers at SFO need a change, and we are ready to strike for it.”

Among those arrested were San Francisco Supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar; State Assemblymember Ash Kalra; State Sen. Josh Becker; Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a former state assemblymember and head of the California Labor Federation union; and Honey Mahogany, a District 6 supervisor candidate, according to Unite Here Local 2, which organized the protest.

The protesters were cited for sitting in the road and disobeying traffic officers’ orders, said Russell Mackey, SFO airport duty manager. They were all released and potential charges will be determined by the San Mateo County District Attorney.

There were no injuries or operational disruptions, Mackey said.

“I was proud to join food service workers fighting for fair pay at SFO. All workers deserve fair wages and fair treatment — and to know elected officials have their back,” Mar said.

Workers previously protested in August and last striked in 2014, which led to a contract agreement.

Roland Li is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @rolandlisf




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