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6/02/2005

Airline Caterer Proposes Recipe for Disaster - Workers Reject Offer

Source: Teamsters and Unite Here

Union members working for airline caterer Gate Gourmet voted overwhelmingly 3,860 to 240 to reject deep cutsin wages and benefits sought in a final proposal by the company. GateGourmet threatened stakeholders that the rejection sets the stage forbankruptcy. While sympathetic to a distressed catering market sinceSeptember 11, 2001, workers viewed the company's demands as being toosevere given the low wages they already earn. Union members willdetermine whether to strike the company's U.S. kitchens in the event thatGate Gourmet seeks to reject the union's contract in bankruptcy court.

All this takes place while Gate Gourmet equity owner, Texas Pacific Group (TPG), continues to invest in high profile acquisitions. In May,TPG participated in the $5.1 billion acquisition of retailer NeimanMarcus. The recent buying spree by the $15 billion venture capital firmcontrasts sharply with cost cutting at Gate Gourmet and cements theunion's feeling that TPG has not done enough to support its investment inGate Gourmet.


The workers rejected over $40 million in annual concessions in the form of double digit wage cuts, frozen pensions and radical cost increasesfor health care. David Benitez, eleven year cook at Washington Dulles,retorted "this is outrageous; we work hard everyday for very littlealready. These cuts would have given us no reason to continue working inthis tough airport business environment." At San Francisco International,Blanca Tejada added, "I can't afford the proposed cuts. My landlord won'tlower my rent because Gate Gourmet or TPG need to cut my wage. Everyone'sworried about Gate Gourmet going bankrupt; I'm worried about myself, mycoworkers and our families going bankrupt!"

Ken Paulsen, Spokesperson for the Joint Labor Council, summed things up by saying, "It's time for Gate Gourmet to work with its employees andthe union as partners. We are willing to work with the company, but ourworking class members refuse to bear the entire burden so that TPG cansimply sell Gate Gourmet at a higher premium. Instead of using bankruptcylaws benefiting the richest among us, TPG and its limited partners mustprovide additional support for their investment in Gate Gourmet."


The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UNITE HERE represent over 6,000 workers at Gate Gourmet kitchens located throughout U.S.airports and Amtrak stations. Gate Gourmet employees have been workingwithout an amended contract since June 2004.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former manager for the Gategourmet facility in Boston I can say quite honestly that the company is it's own worst enemy. One example was the "buy on board" experiment undertaken by several US carriers. Gategourmet did nothing to insulate itself from the possibility that the program would not be successful and in fact sustained huge losses due to waste and pilferage. I'm truly sorry for my former employees and fellow managers who must still rely on the company for their livelyhood.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the huge expenses undertaken by Gate Gourmet in moving its headquarters to VA and the rapid expansion of the executive team under the new CEO, it is surprising that they need to cut costs in the rank and file. Upper echelon of this corp. is behaving like it is a successful dot com, while the rank and file union employees are being asked to live on sweatshop wages and benefits. All this in an industry which is DOA...puzzling. Prev poster is exactly on target, but a dozen equally expensive and failed current and past projects could easily be added to his/her list.

11:40 PM  
Blogger number1 said...

I worked at gateserve (which is the cheep sister company of gategourmet) driving a truck for almost a year when one day my palete jack broke, the equipment I used to load my truck with skids of soda. The manager told me to push the skid manualy into my truck with two other people, but it was over a ton,so told him it was unsafe and he needed to get me the proper equipment before I could move it. He took me into his office where he wanted me to sign a form which I did not understand. I asked for union representation in order to protect my rights but he refuse to allow me a union rep and told me to leave the building. The next week I met with the human resouces to give my side of the store. they had told me that they would call me the next day to let me know what was to be done. I never herd from them. I filed a grievance with out union but I feel that since over two mounths have past nothing is being done. Before this the driver I relieved had hurt his back because of the same problem and all of my co-worker have complained since I could remember to managment. resently I have found out that another driver stood up for the same thing I did and was also fired. what actions can I take.
thank you, #1 Driver

5:00 PM  
Blogger number1 said...

I worked at gateserve (which is the cheep sister company of gategourmet) driving a truck for almost a year when one day my palete jack broke, the equipment I used to load my truck with skids of soda. The manager told me to push the skid manualy into my truck with two other people, but it was over a ton,so told him it was unsafe and he needed to get me the proper equipment before I could move it. He took me into his office where he wanted me to sign a form which I did not understand. I asked for union representation in order to protect my rights but he refuse to allow me a union rep and told me to leave the building. The next week I met with the human resouces to give my side of the store. they had told me that they would call me the next day to let me know what was to be done. I never herd from them. I filed a grievance with out union but I feel that since over two mounths have past nothing is being done. Before this the driver I relieved had hurt his back because of the same problem and all of my co-worker have complained since I could remember to managment. resently I have found out that another driver stood up for the same thing I did and was also fired. what actions can I take.
thank you, #1 Driver

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to tell all of you that read this, i am a manager here at gategourmet for a long years, in the past it was never like this. now all that the GM care for is overtime cuts and making money and no delays. now how can you make this happend if none cares for the employees, not only that but the company cut there pay there heath BEF ect, this is the worst company to work for, pelase look else where as I am doing the same. the best option is as soon as you see wrong doing get a lawyer and explain to him/her the situation and take the company to court.

12:21 PM  

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