Leaders of a hospitality union representing around 400 concession workers at Boston Logan Airport warned of a holiday-season strike Wednesday in a meeting that gathered local politicians and officials from UNITE HERE Local 26.
Employees who work behind counters and in kitchens or lounges at 30 outlets at Logan say they are struggling with severe understaffing issues and low pay. They’re employed by six companies: Air Ventures, Delaware North, HMS Host, SSP, Lufthansa Lounge, and United Club.
Carlos Aramayo, president of Local 26, said in an interview that the workers account for about half of the food service employees at the airport.
“There is what I would call a labor crisis at Logan Airport in concessions right now,” he said. “They’re short dozens and dozens and dozens of people.”
Workers want raises and more affordable health insurance woven into the next contract, but none of the companies have reached agreements with the union since the previous contacts expired between January and September of this year.
Even with the busy holiday travel season fast approaching, Aramayo said that bargaining has been like “cold molasses, dragging on extremely slowly.”
The possibility of a strike is growing.
“We’re not going on strike tomorrow,” he added. “But it’s become a very serious discussion.”
Wednesday’s meeting included workers visiting from San Francisco International Airport, where, after a three-day walkout, 800 concession employees recently secured a contract that guaranteed up to $5 raises — paid out over multiple years — and family healthcare.
In the meeting, Rayshone Austin, a cook at Alta Strada in Logan’s Terminal A, said he feels overworked and underpaid without a stronger contract. Hiring union workers at higher wages would help retain employees, he added. Instead, people are cycling through the Italian restaurant at record pace.
“I’m the only cook there during my shift and I do breakfast by myself,” Austin said. “I’m one person, doing three jobs. I can’t go on vacation. I can’t take a day off. I called out one day because I was sick, and the manager tried to write me up.”
Grisselle Torres, a cook at W Pizza in Terminal B, agreed.
“The workers at San Francisco Airport did a good thing by going on strike. They stood together and fought for what they deserve,” she said. “It’s time for Logan Airport workers to take action.”