Oakland Airport Workers On Strike

Close on the heels of yesterday's historic fast food worker strike, 180 Oakland Airport food and retail workers walked off the job today to protest unfair labor practices by their employer, Host International, including regressive bargaining and a retaliatory lawsuit filed against the union. Host’s most recent proposals would strip away benefits the workers have depended on for years.

Monica Guzman, a retail cashier:

I’m striking because I’ve worked here for 22 years, I raised my family on this job, and now Host wants us to give up the benefits my co-workers and I have fought to protect for all these years.

The workers have been in contract negotiations with Host for the past year. Their wages are already low – retail clerks earn between $9.75 and $12.64 an hour. Host’s latest proposal would gut their contract: drastically reducing vacation and sick days; eliminating pensions, paid meal breaks, and even overtime pay on shifts longer than eight hours; cutting pay for new hires and freezing longtime workers’ wages for five years; and removing workers from the union’s affordable health insurance plan.

Marisol Chavez-Lopez, a cook at Max’s Deli:

I’m striking today because Host doesn’t think we should get overtime pay if we work more than 8 hours. We don’t live in the nineteenth century!

Re Bun Ly, who has worked at See’s Candy in the airport for 5 years, doesn't have a union, but understands the power of solidarity.

I’m a non-union food worker at the airport, and I make $9 an hour with no health care. I’m marching with the Host workers because I believe that all airport jobs should be good jobs.

The airport workers are joining a growing movement of food and retail workers fighting for better pay and benefits. Fast food workers across the country have organized actions calling for higher minimum wages – including an East-Bay-wide fast food strike on August 29th. And Walmart workers launched a national strike last May, and are building for an action in San Francisco and several other cities on September 5th.

The workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 2850, has tried for a year to reach a fair compromise through negotiation – but Host’s proposals have only gotten worse for workers. “We can’t reach a deal if the only movement Host makes is backward,” said Local 2850 President Wei-Ling Huber.

Workers will be on strike starting at 4am on Friday, August 30 with rallies planned for 7am, 12pm, and 5pm. You can find photos and highlights throughout the day on our Facebook page.