After a five-week organizing election, catering workers at United Airlines have overwhelmingly voted to join UNITE HERE. After celebrating late last night, 2,700 United employees in Cleveland, Denver, Honolulu, Houston and Newark, N.J., will soon head to work with the hard-earned rights and dignities that come with a freshly printed union card.
“This is a landmark moment in our union, representing the largest organizing victory of the year,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor. “Welcoming workers in United Airlines’ catering kitchens into our union will not only change thousands of lives for those individual workers, but it’s a tipping point in the airline catering industry. It’s no secret that airlines like United continue to enjoy profits in the billions. Fifteen thousand food workers have organized to tell major airlines that they refuse to be treated like second-class citizens—workers deserve their fair share of this industry’s success.”
The overwhelming vote comes after nearly a year of organizing. Check out a few of the key facts that drove this groundbreaking victory:
Catering workers were the only nonmanagerial, front-line workers directly employed by United who did not have a union. Nearly 80% of United’s 88,000 employees are unionized.
United Airlines made $2.1 billion in profit in 2017.
Meanwhile, United Catering Operations workers earn wages as low as $9.99 an hour. Union work groups, however, secured contracts with some $900 million in annual raises.