UNITE HERE Local 1 Awards “Scrooge of the Year” to American Airlines and Gate Gourmet at O’Hare

For release December 21, 2018

Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson


UNITE HERE Local 1 Awards “Scrooge of the Year” to American Airlines and Gate Gourmet at O’Hare

Chicago, IL — American Airlines and its contracted catering company, Gate Gourmet, were awarded “O’Hare Scrooge of the Year” by UNITE HERE Local 1 today at a union rally at American’s O’Hare Terminal 3.

American Airlines’ caterer, Gate Gourmet, has not raised base wages for its largely immigrant workforce. In contrast, United Airline’s caterer, LSG Sky Chefs, raised base pay at their Chicago kitchen to $13.80 in October, matching the living wage standard set by the City of Chicago for contracted workers at O’Hare and Midway Airports.  60% of Gate Gourmet workers at O’Hare, who cater for American Airlines, earn less than $13.80. Airline catering workers prepare and transport food and beverages for passengers to enjoy inflight.

On one of the busiest travel days of the year, workers took the opportunity to both spread holiday joy and demand pay in line with the airport standard minimum wage.

“American Airlines is being a Scrooge. All I need for Christmas this year is a raise so I can provide a warm home and good food for my family.” said Sheana Spellman, a dishwasher at Gate Gourmet. “We work hard, we do the same work as the people who cater for United, and American needs to tell Gate Gourmet not to be so cheap.”

“American Airlines and Gate Gourmet clearly need a visit from the ghosts that helped Ebenezer Scrooge turn his heart around.” Said UNITE HERE Local 1 President, Karen Kent. “People who cater meals for one of O’Hare’s largest carriers should not be paid less than a living wage.   This is not how our City treats people. We have fought to raise the standard at the airport and we will keep up that fight.”

The push for raises comes as American has invested $78 million in 5 new gates at O’Hare and looks to expand further through the O’Hare expansion over the next several years.

“What right have you to be merry?

 What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” [Said Scrooge]

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal?

What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said,

“Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol


UNITE HERE Local 1 represents about 3,700 food service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Learn more at www.UNITEHERE1.org, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @UNITEHERELocal1.