Hundreds of Airline Catering Workers Stage Protest at JFK Airport

JFK protest resized

What to Know

  • Hundreds of airline workers staged a protest Tuesday at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens to demand better pay and benefits
  • The food service workers eventually moved inside the terminal and staged a “die-in” protest, lying down in front of American Airlines
  • Others stayed outside and lined up one a crosswalk, chanting as they blocked the roadway from all traffic

Hundreds of airline workers staged a protest Tuesday at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, blocking traffic at one of the busiest travel hubs in the country, to demand better pay and benefits.

Two days before Thanksgiving, and just ahead of the busiest travel day of the year, a couple hundred members of the airline catering workers union held the demonstration as they contend their current contract doesn’t allow them to earn enough to keep up with the cost of living. The group is arguing for nationwide wage of at least $15 an hour.

The food service workers eventually moved inside the terminal and staged a “die-in” protest, lying down in front of the American Airlines section. Others stayed outside and lined up one a crosswalk, chanting as they blocked the roadway.

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to support the protesters, saying they are “fighting a noble fight.” The mayor was just one of several city council members and other lawmakers to support the union.

Port Authority Police were monitoring the protests, and had placed at least 65 people under arrest after about an hour and a half. Most of those arrested were issued summonses or desk appearances.

The demonstration is one of several at airports across the country, as 20,000 workers are effected by the contract they are standing against.

American Airlines put out a statement saying they would like to reach an agreement, but there is a third-party contractor who handles many of the contracts.

"We understand that new labor contracts between Unite Here and LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet will result in increased costs their many airline customers, including American," the statement read.

Contact Us