Amid the holiday travel crunch, unionized airline caterers plan to stage another demonstration at Los Angeles International Airport Friday to highlight their demand for higher wages and expanded benefits, potentially causing additional delays for travelers.
The caterers' union, UNITE HERE Local 11, staged a similar protest at LAX two days before Thanksgiving, resulting in 16 arrests for alleged failure to disperse.
The caterers work for LSG Sky Chefs and its subsidiary, Gate Gourmet, which contracts with American Airlines and other carriers. According to the union, one in four workers with LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet earn less than $12 per hour, including people who have worked for the companies for more than a decade. The union also contends that 33% of workers at LSG Sky Chefs at LAX had company healthcare in 2018, and 10% of that insurance covered dependents.
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Calls to LSG were not immediately returned, but the company issued a statement in November saying, “Our negotiating team and a federal mediator have been working since May 2019 to negotiate in good faith with the union representing our employees. While this is a short period of time to negotiate a complex labor agreement, we feel progress is being made with the help of the federal mediator. We remain committed to negotiating in good faith.”
American Airlines also provided a statement at the time, saying the carrier is “confident” in the negotiations, but it ultimately has no control over the labor talks.
Airport officials said travelers heading to LAX should allow extra time Friday to reach the Central Terminal Area. The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
Airport officials said the demonstration is not expected to affect flight operations, but at least two lanes of westbound Century Boulevard are expected to be closed between Avion Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard during the event, and motorists were advised to use alternate routes, including northbound and southbound Sepulveda Boulevard, to reach the airport.
Due to the possible closure of Century Boulevard at Vicksburg Avenue, westbound motorists may find access to Sepulveda Boulevard restricted at times and could be forced into the Central Terminal Area on World Way.
Westchester Parkway runs east to west and can be used with southbound Sepulveda to avoid the restricted portion of Century Boulevard, airport officials said.
The activity may also affect some LAX terminals, as airport officials expect a group of marchers to make its way from Terminal 2 to the Lower/Arrivals Level and east on World Way and Century Boulevard, crossing Sepulveda Boulevard, to a construction lot entrance between Vicksburg Avenue and Avion Drive for a rally.
A second group of marchers is expected to head west on Century Boulevard from Avion Drive to the rally location.
Additional traffic officers will be on site, and the airport will be working with the Los Angeles Airport Police Division, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to maintain access to LAX.
Roughly 5.9 million people are expected to pass through the airport during the Christmas and New Year's holiday travel period, which, as airport officials measure it, began last Friday and will continue through Jan. 6.
The busiest -- or “super peak” days -- are expected to include Sunday, Monday, the day after Christmas, Dec. 29 and Dec. 30.
Travelers can follow the @FlyLAXAirport and @FlyLAXStats Twitter feeds for the latest update on traffic conditions in and near the airport and for other operational updates.