Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport food service workers go on strike during contract dispute

Oct 25, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:03 am

PHOENIX – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport food and beverage workers in a contract dispute with a concessions contractor walked out on strike Wednesday.

The picketers included cashiers, cooks, bartenders, servers, dishwashers and baristas at various airport restaurants, including Matt’s Big Breakfast, Pita Jungle, Dunkin’ Donuts and Four Peaks Brewing Co.

The workers, represented by Unite Here Local 11, voted Sept. 1 to authorize a strike against SSP America, a company contracted by the city of Phoenix to operate concessions at the airport.

“We are monitoring this very closely and working with our airport partners to ensure there is minimal disruption to airport passengers as workers and their employers continue their dialogue,” Tamra Ingersoll, an airport spokeswoman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email.

SSP America didn’t immediately respond to questions about how the strike was affecting Sky Harbor restaurant operations.

Why did Phoenix airport workers go on strike?

The collective bargaining agreement with SSP America expired May 31. The union alleges that the company has not made significant movement on improving pay, health insurance contributions and working conditions.

SSP America employs more than 400 workers at the Phoenix airport, the union said.

Wednesday’s demonstration started around 6 a.m. outside Terminal 4 and planned to move to the Terminal 3, where Phoenix City Councilmembers Betty Guardado and Yassamin Ansari were expected to speak later in the morning. The picketers were expected to move back to Terminal 4 in the afternoon.

How long will Sky Harbor food service strike last?

It’s not clear if the strike will last beyond Wednesday.

“It’s really up to the workers how long they stay out,” Victoria Stahl, communications organizer for Unite Here Local 11, told KTAR News in an email.

“They want to send a clear message to SSP that they are willing to do whatever it takes to win the contract they deserve.”

Unite Here Local 11 represents more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona.

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Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport food service workers go on strike during contract dispute