SEATAC, Wash. — Airline catering workers are marching, demanding better pay and affordable medical coverage.
They have chosen to protest on one of the busiest travel days of the year, a decision that was completely by design.
They are workers from LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, among the 950 people who prepare, load and transport the food that the airlines offer on their flights.
They say nearly 70% of them earn less than the $16.34 an hour earned by many other airport employees.
"I pay $544a month for my medical," said Ronnie Lalimo, who has worked for Sky Chef for six year. "(And) most of our coworkers get paid $12.50 an hour."
They say they want to pressure the airlines to act.
"Yeah," said Stefan Moritz with UnitedHere! Local 8. "We're here to get our message out that the industry, the airline industry has to do better. Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet workers are doing an essential job for these airlines."
Airlines that, they say, are earning billions of dollars a year while these workers are barely surviving.
The Port of Seattle says it agrees with the workers. The Port blames Proposition 1, saying it raised the minimum wage for some, but not all, workers in the City of SeaTac.
In a statement, LSG Sky Chefs says they have offered wage improvements and are discussing other issues through Federal Mediation.
As for this protest, the workers plan is to march along the arrivals area.
But they say they do not want to disrupt travelers eager to get on their way for Thanksgiving.
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