San Francisco airport fast food workers strike for higher wages

San Francisco airport fast food workers strike for higher wages

/ 08:49 AM September 27, 2022

Nearly 1,000 fast-food workers at San Francisco Airport went on strike on Monday following three years of stagnant wages. They are demanding higher pay after contract deals were put off.

These groups of workers are members of the Unite Here Local 2 Union. It includes workers from 84 locations at the airport under 30 different employers. According to a press release, this airport strike has no scheduled end date. 


While some restaurants can still offer limited hours, this San Francisco airport strike will affect most food outlets. In addition, the travelers would only have limited food options. But according to SFO officials, passengers will still have access to packaged foods at retail stores.

Due to the ongoing strike, the union group advised passengers to bring snacks to avoid passing thru the picket line. The union’s president Anand Singh said, “Working at SFO used to mean you had a good job, But most of the airport’s fast-food workers haven’t seen a raise in three years. 

He also added, “Nine months of negotiations got us nowhere. And SFO’s food service workers are tired of working two or even three jobs to survive.” The Unite Here Local 2 union speaks for 15,000 workers at SFO, Oakland International Airport, and other locations in the area.

However, any SFO representative hasn’t released a statement yet. On Tuesday, dozens of workers marched outside Terminals 1 and 3 for hours. Most hold “one job should be enough” and “on strike” signs. 

They even chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Some cars passing by honked in support of the strike. Although their voices reached Terminal 1, the airport mood inside was still calm and non-chaotic.

Insufficient Wages

Aside from the airport strike, the union also showed its presence at TikTok. They posted videos comparing their $17.05 per hour rate to the food prices at their stores. In one video, a worker says, ” We sell $21 margaritas, and we’re getting paid $16 an hour.”

In another clip, a woman working at Pie Five Pizza and Ladle & Leaf Restaurant said that her hourly rate doesn’t even amount to the cost of their pizza and drink meal. It cost more than $21.

The airport strike happened after a rally this month where 41 people were arrested. In a video clip, San Francisco airport workers are blocking one airport’s throughways. Police officials arrested State Senator Josh Becker and San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who joined the rally.

Furthermore, the union assesses that almost 10% of the workers are striving to work two jobs. They work in other businesses to sustain their living. 

For over a decade, Maria Soza Rodriguez worked at Urban Tortilla and Burger King at San Francisco airport. She worked a total of 15 hours each day for both shifts. Rodriguez quit working full-time with the Unite Here Local 2. 

This working situation wasn’t new as airport employees across the country have been asking for wage raises and better working conditions for the past years.

Although an average worker’s pay is already more than $2 of the California minimum wage, the union said their pay hasn’t matched up with the rising cost of living in San Francisco.

Living Conditions

The minimum monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $4,814. It’s approximately a 12% increase yearly. Nine out of 10 San Francisco apartments cost more than $2,100 monthly.

Aside from the increasing house rent prices, another factor that crippled the airports’ businesses is the COVID-19 pandemic. Most airports have been closed for more than a year, and most San Francisco airport workers also contracted the virus.

In addition, labor strikes have been rampant this year. According to research by Cornell University, there are 180 strikes, including 78,000 workers, for the first six months of 2022. The current labor market giving power to workers and salary discontentment are some factors that triggered strikes.

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