Catering workers protest for higher wages outside American Airlines HQ

Airline catering workers are protesting in different parts of North Texas demanding more money.

The group says Fort Worth-based American Airlines is not paying workers as much as other airlines. They say their next step is a strike.

Some workers began picketing Tuesday at DFW Airport’s Terminal D and plan to do so for the next few days. The same group protested outside of the new American Airlines headquarters where dozens of them were arrested.

Wearing red t-shirts that read "one job should be enough," dozens of workers from LSG Sky Chefs, the airline caterer for American Airlines, protested outside American's new headquarters in Fort Worth.

“As a driver and as a worker for Sky Chefs, a lot of people make $12 per hour,” said Ronnie Lalimo, an airline catering worker. “Our job is valuable like everyone else.”

Unite Here is the union representing the workers. They organized Tuesday’s march and protest. The large turnout was visible from SKY 4. The union says the men and women make as little as $9.85 per hour. They are demanding higher wages and affordable healthcare.

“Do the right thing,” said organizer Julius Devera. “Pay your folks a fair share like you do with your other airline employees. Do not leave our folks behind.”

In a statement, LSG SKY Chefs says it’s been negotiating with the union since May. They added: “Our company has offered improvements in wages and is discussing numerous other issues covered by our collective bargaining agreement."

American Airlines is one of LSG Sky Chefs’ biggest clients, which is why the group decided to protest in front of their headquarters. According to Fort Worth police, 58 people were arrested for blocking an intersection that leads to the company.

“American Airlines respects and supports the rights of workers to join a union and bargain collectively,” the airline said in a statement. “While we are not part of the ongoing negotiations, we urge both LSG Sky Chefs and Unite Here to bargain in good faith and get a deal done.”

If a deal doesn’t happen soon, an American Airlines flight attendant says the customer will feel the effects of the fallout, should a strike soon follow.

“Something as simple as offering them a cold beverage when they come on the aircraft. If I don't have that, it may be because our caterers weren't able to come on board our planes today,” said Robin Charbonneau with the Association for Professional Flight Attendants.

Unite Here has asked to be released from mediation with LSG Sky Chefs, which would allow workers to legally strike. For now, contract negotiations continue.

American Airlines says it knows any new catering contract will likely result in a cost increase.