Hawaii Flights | Strike Could Eliminate Food on Board

Hawaii Flights | Strike Could Eliminate Food on Board

If you fly on any of three airlines from these Hawaii airports, it might be time to start thinking about packing your own food. Read on for details.

This week airline food workers voted decisively to strike following release from mediation. This part of a larger vote that took place in 21 cities nationally. Furthermore, look for picketing to commence on July 3 at Honolulu Airport.

Eric Gill, UNITE HERE Local 5 union representative said, “that workers voted 100% today to strike when released should send a strong message to American, Delta, and United. The median wage of a Gate Gourmet worker in Hawaii is only $12.25 per hour. This has reached a crisis level—airline catering workers in Honolulu and Kahului need meaningful changes, and they need them right now.”

Long-term workers at caterer Gate Gourmet complain that even after a quarter century of employment, they barely make $15 per hour. That while the median wage at the company, here in Hawaii, is even less. Yikes.

In a theme similar to that of hotel workers in Hawaii, “one full time job should be enough” is a common request. It isn’t unusual for those of us living in Hawaii to work two or three jobs in order to be able to afford living here. We often say that once you live here, visiting anywhere in the world isn’t expensive.

While negotiations are ongoing, workers have not received what they deem appropriate wage and health benefit offers that are meaningful. That while these airlines have raked in tens of billions in profits, just over the last five years. The union will seek to be released from mediation this summer, after which a 30-day period for cooling off would be required. Thereafter, it could become legal for the union members to strike.

Airlines impacted: American, Delta and United.

Airports impacted: Honolulu and Maui. As far as we know, there is no catering on the Big Island and on Kauai, and airlines bring food from the mainland or acquired independently.

Beat of Hawaii suggests: Eat Well At 30,000 Feet | A Foodie Travel Guide

Photo courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 5.



14 thoughts on “Hawaii Flights | Strike Could Eliminate Food on Board”

  1. GL, your math is off. Taking $50,000 away from 20 people will only get you $1,000,000. That will only put $2,000 in 500 peoples paychecks. The problem with that is you are taking money away from people. Those people made plans based on a $200,000 salary such as sending their kids to college so their kids do not have to work work for $30,000 per year. Or, a spouse may have chosen to quit their job so they could stay home with their kids and take care of their grandmother who would otherwise be in a nursing home. While my wife made over $100,000 less than $200,000, it was enough for me to quit my job 16 years ago. So I chose to become a stay at home parent to 4 kids and take care of my grandmother who couldn’t manage her own affairs anymore. Then some people in DC decided that people like my wife were overpaid and could afford to go without raises for several years. Taking from others to get what you want is never the solution to problems. That’s why thieves go to jail. The problem is multi-faceted, and solutions should be as well. A better educational process that ensures that people can educate themselves so that they are not faced with having to raise a family on low wage jobs would be one part. Comprehensive health and mental health being available for affordable costs to all would be another important feature so that problems can be treated early and people aren’t saddled with life altering medical bills. Real consequences being faced by people who directly cheat others through scams would be another facet needed to ensure that whatever gains people make in life are not taken from them. Comprehensive enforcement of any forms of discrimination is vital to the functioning of a society. Lastly, a sense of personal responsibility is also a very important part of the equation. Our society could provide every option to people for free and yet if they choose to goof off in class and not do their homework, they will not become educated. If they choose to get high and not go to the doctor because of the ‘stigma’ of not being well or the inability to afford the cost to go, they will not be in a position to successfully hold a job. If people get their life savings or even their car payment scammed away from them by unscrupulous people, they will never be able to accumulate any assets in life and can even get assets seized because of not making payments. If people are judged not by what they do but how they are different, nobody will get anywhere in life. You can’t have two sets of rules for a game, one printed out for everyone to follow and another secret set known only to some. You do not have to be friends with, hang out with, support, or even like anyone, but for society to function, you do have to treat everyone with respect and dignity, because somewhere out there are others who do not like, support or want to be around you. Wouldn’t life be awful if you had to be afraid of losing your job, getting beat up or not being able to find a place to live if you came across those people. Everyone deserves to enjoy all the benefits of liberty and be able to pursue happiness in America, but only liberty and the ability to pursue happiness is guaranteed, what people achieve is up to them.

    Sorry for the rant, and it may be a bit off topic, but I get frustrated with simple solutions to complex problems.

    Thanks for the excellent website! The only way our family can get to Hawaii is to do it on the cheap and many of your tips and alerts help with that.

  2. I’ve worked for an airline, yes it was a union position and we got a pay raise. Then, the CEO announced that the airline was having financial issues and that the pilots and flight attendants had agreed to these wage cuts. The union agreed, we took the cuts, then the CEO gave the profits from those cuts/savings and gave millions to 45 executives that already make six figure incomes, just because he felt they were more important than the rest of us who had direct impact to the public.

    I’m sure that these employees take pride in their jobs, but they are not treated with respect which is reflected by the wages they receive.

  3. ALOHA

    I’m a former airline employee and have lived (in ‘da ’50s) and worked and flown in/out of Hawai’i over the decades … I was also a member of the AFL-CIO for over 40 years.

    And I can state w/out hesitation OR reservation that this “strike” is bogus (that’s a ‘nice word’) and completely self-serving.

    $15/hour?? Why not $50 … $100/hour? Why only $15 ???

    Let’s get real, folks … and airport food service worker was NEVER intended to be a “career” position, and anyone who thinks otherwise is either sadly deluded or believes in the Easter Bunny. It is, in point of fact, the airport equivalent of a MacDonald’s food service worker. It’s an ENTRY LEVEL position to something mo’ bettah’. Period.

    Suggestion to the union folks who don’t like their lot in life. Don’t like your job?? Pay’s not good enough?? Then GET ANOTHER JOB !!

    Obla-de-obla-da … la-la-la-la life goes on.

    1. Because there are so many career jobs out there… smh! What world do you live in? CEO’s making more now then they ever did in history. Just because you say it’s an entry level job doesn’t mean it will be filled by “teenagers”. If you’re making a profit, you should be “sharing” with the people who actually make it. You remember kindergarten right?

  4. In my opinion, if you want a career, get a real career.

    The food on any Airline is extremely mediocre at best. It’s bad enough you have to pay (on most airlines now) for the crappy food and (mostly) unhealthy snacks that they really don’t actually “prepare”, yet charge 3 times the price on the ground for. Most of these workers are just food packers/movers, and those that make the actual food have some sort of production line set-up. This is really a glorified McDonald’s position, only because they are likely responsible for making more expensive machinery work properly, and when it breaks they call technical specialists, who actually have real careers to fix it. There may be some positions in this work arena that deserve higher pay, but I don’t think fast food employees (except management) deserve the $15 an hour they are asking for, and some of these people are making that now. If they want to make more money, either step up and provide spectacular food and exceptional products for which I’ll gladly pay more and help fund their wages they deserve…or like I said, get a real carrer and let those willing to work these positions make the few dollars more an hour than the average crappy fast food position…

    Thanks for the insight, but I think these people could be working toward unemployment, sadly…just my 2 cents worth…

    1. Why do we have to de-value what other humans do? Especially when they provide a service to us. It’s easy to argue that these are jobs for children who live at home and have parents that provide housing and food. But in the real world that is not the case.
      People have to survive and you can’t have nice things unless you pay for them. That goes for people on planes that want food too. The bottom line is not going to change, it’s the way the wage tiers are currently configured that’s the issue.
      Too much value is placed on the top 5% off the work force when the main focus and drive is delivered by the botton 50%.
      Anyone who thinks they deserve more than $150k per year while the people who perform the main funtions of the company need to re-evaluate the big picture.
      If you have 20 people making $200k a year then lowering that wage to $150k frees up $10,000,000
      Enough to give 500 workers a $20K raise per year. Without increasing costs.
      $150K not enough for these people? I’m sure they can be replaced, I don’t know many people that would say no to that.
      Problem is, greed will argue otherwise….

      1. GL,

        The pilot, who has control of a multi-million dollar plane and 250 lives, who is responsible for making sure that at 35 thousand feet (If problems occur) those 250 lives get to the ground safely, is significantly more valuable than the person packing crappy food trays or pre packaged snacks that go on that plane. The reality is every position in a company has value. So, if you are going to have a lower valued position, you can expect to have a “de-valued” paycheck. It’s nothing personal to an individual in that particular position.

        I worked at McDonald’s as a teen, and had I chosen that particular career (let’s be clear flipping burgers isn’t a career), I would have moved up in further management and worked toward moving up in the company. I was a shift manager at 19 making a whopping $4.10/hr. I knew my value compared to the store manager and the owner. I chose to move on and put myself in a position of greater value.

        The top 5% (as you put it) take virtually All (100%) of the financial risk. The lower 50% assume absolutely None. Wondering where your other 45% went and what you feel they deserve…but I digress; The bottom 50% are paid wages based on how much they can be replaced for. This is actual reality.

        When you assume all the risk, you can then determine the value of positions within your company. There are some pretty good business models out there, but most (if not all), who do something similar to what you’re suggesting, require a much higher education (than a burger flipper or an airline food packer) to even start in their fields.

        You have a wonderful euphoric vision of how business should work, albeit not very realistic for companies the size of these.

  5. What an eye opener! The phrase you used, “while these airlines have raked in tens of billions in profits, just over the last five years” makes this situation of low wages all the more sad. As consumers we are stuck with cramped seating and extra charges for the basics of air travel. If that isn’t frustrating enough, we now find out that the enormous amounts of monies generated have not trickled down to the people who support the operations. Shameful. Thank you for shedding light on the strike.

  6. Very interesting article! Now I am all for union solidarity and all for employee rights and benefits…they should be afforded a reasonable living wage and benefits that encourages a single full time career. It’s what separates the “career” from the “just getting by” jobs.

    However, nothing is free! As a frequent traveler, could WE please ask both employers and employees for IMPROVEMENT in airline meal service? We all sort of accept that it will cost us big money for airline food, but it it too much to ask to have decent quality meals??

    I recently flew next to a “celebrity chef.” I told him I was interested in what he was going to order! He laughed and replied he already ate at the airport diner, because he NEVER eats in flight food because the quality is so poor!

    I’m no chef, but I can’t even remember when I had a GOOD in flight meal, even in 1st class on any domestic line!

  7. If they bring it over for Lihue and Kona what stops them doing it for HNL and OGG? Surely carriers will just bring the food over? Particularly as catering is very restricted on mainland flights. Now if it was Hawaiian probably much bigger issue.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top