Oakland Airport Restaurant Workers Declare Victory!

After a two-year struggle, nearly 200 restaurant workers at the Oakland Airport are celebrating their new union contract – which provides for raises, affordable family health care, and job security.

The workers struck in August 2013 to protest unfair labor practices by their employer, Host International, which included regressive proposals to freeze wages and slash benefits.

“Host wanted to turn our jobs into McDonald’s jobs that would leave our families in poverty. But we stuck together and fought back and won a great contract. Now I can take good care of my kids, and they can be proud knowing their mom stood up for them,” said concessions worker Nancy Moncada.

“We want to thank all our fellow Port workers, other unions, and friends in the community who stood with us for the past two years – we could not have won this victory without you.” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan dropped by the workers’ victory celebration on Tuesday. “Oakland should be a city where working-class families can survive and thrive – especially those working at the Port of Oakland. The airport food service workers have fought long and hard to make that vision a reality, and I congratulate them on their victory,” said Quan.

Under the new contract, non-tipped workers will receive 40-cent raises each year. An excellent health care plan will be available to workers for $10 a month for single coverage or $25 for full family coverage. Workers will also receive pension benefits, paid sick days, free meals, and one to four weeks of vacation per year.

The workers at Host are represented by UNITE HERE Local 2850; their previous contract expired in July 2012. Over the past two years, the workers have staged numerous protests and a one-day strike in their efforts to secure a fair contract.

“I hope this is an inspiration to all the people in Oakland and all the fast food workers out there who are struggling for a living wage. If you keep on fighting, you can win!” said Host worker Hong Mei Li.

Employees at non-union restaurants in the Oakland Airport also staged protests in 2012 and 2013, highlighting violations of the Port’s living wage policy. Earlier this year, the Port Commission adopted a policy that all new airport food and retail operators must sign labor peace agreements. Labor peace agreements may include guarantees of a fair process for workers to decide whether they wish join a union, free from employer interference or retaliation.

“It’s been a long fight, but the future is brighter for Oakland workers because of it,” said Local 2850 president Wei-Ling Huber. “The airport workers can teach us all what it takes to win good jobs for working-class families in Oakland.”