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Hundreds of union workers who prepare food served on American Airlines and United Airlines flights from Logan Airport plan to vote on a strike authorization Thursday.
Unite Here Local 26, the union representing the workers, expects the resolution to pass and is organizing a demonstration at Logan on July 3, when the airport is likely to be crammed with Independence Day travelers.
If the 345 workers represented by the union do authorize a strike, they will not walk off the job immediately. Union leaders will continue to negotiate, through a federal mediator, with LSG Sky Chefs, the company that employs them and supplies food to airlines. To go on strike, workers would need permission from the National Mediation Board.
The group of airline food workers in Boston is just one of 21 taking strike votes this week, according to Unite Here. Roughly 11,000 food workers nationwide are mulling strikes at airports in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas.
Local 26 President Brian Lang said the median wage of the Boston workers is $13.80 per hour, and many find LSG Sky Chefs' health insurance plan so expensive that they use MassHealth, the state's Medicaid system, instead.
"Workers are dealing with homelessness, not being able to see their families because they are compelled to work many, many hours of overtime just to make ends meet — and barely, at that," Lang said. "It's really a dire situation. Our slogan — 'One job should be enough' — is really one that applies to this group of workers more than any other that we represent."
Unite Here Local 26 also represents the roughly 1,500 Marriott hotel workers who went on strike last fall.
LSG Sky Chefs declined an interview request but issued a statement: "Our company values the hard work and dedication of our team members. Wages, as well as other benefits, including vacations, uniforms, and company-provided meals, as well as health and welfare, are subject to the collective bargaining process between our company and their union representatives. We are currently in negotiations regarding our collective bargaining agreement with the union, and we are continuing to negotiate in good faith."
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