Congressman Lowenthal, 35 Colleagues, Call On National Mediation Board To Help Low-Paid Airline Caterers In Labor Dispute

March 3, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with 35 of his House colleagues in calling on the National Mediation Board (NMB) to allow thousands of union airline catering workers to be released from a protracted labor mediation process in order to begin labor actions against their employers.

Labor actions involving airline caterers fall under the auspices of the Railway Labor Act which requires union workers in the airline and railway industry to seek permission from the NMB to take labor actions against their employers. Such requests involve a lengthy mediation process overseen by the NMB, and actual permission to take labor action is rarely granted by the board.

In a letter sent today to the three members of the NMB, Congressman Lowenthal and his colleagues wrote, “Over 15,000 workers at LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet who cater flights for American, Delta, United and other airlines have voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike when released from mediation. The unions representing these workers have now requested release to self-help. Regardless of the employment arrangement, the responsibility ultimately lies with the airlines to ensure that these vital members of the aviation community receive fair compensation.”

The letter points out that during the often lengthy NMB process, the union airline catering workers continue to remain some of the lowest paid workers in the airline industry, with most employees receiving no benefits such as health care.   

“We appreciate the hard work of the NMB in working to address these growing labor concerns and conducting mediation for LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet simultaneously,” the letter concludes. “The NMB should now release these workers to self-help, releasing them from mediation and allowing them the ability to strike. We believe these workers’ goal is to escape poverty, not to disrupt travel, and that a prompt release is the only path towards settlement.

To see a full copy of the letter, including a list of signatory Members, click here.