SFO caterers have been shipping orders to San Jose as soon as the new regulation goes into effect
Up to 300 union catering workers at the San Francisco International Airport could relocate their jobs to the San Jose International Airport, according to their union, in what they describe as a deliberate attempt to bypass recently tightened health care requirements for some SFO .
Her employer, LSG Sky Chefs, claims far fewer employees will be affected, and the changes are part of a long-planned consolidation in response to the pandemic that includes relocating some food operations to San Jose.
The Healthy Airports Regulation, passed in November, came into effect last month and requires private sector workers to receive family health care to meet a higher standard without incurring any costs for workers. Employers can instead choose to contribute to a city-managed fund to cover health expenses for workers and their families under the regulation.
Workers represented by Unite Here Local 2 union – including dishwashers, food prep workers and cooks – have been told that their jobs will be relocated to the company’s San Jose facility, according to their union.
In a statement, employee and union member Linda Fajardo said she was on leave from the company during the pandemic and was looking forward to going back to work.
“My job is to prepare the cold dishes for the airlines, and I stand on my feet in a large cooler at 38 degrees all day.” Said Fajardo. “Now I need physical therapy for my knees, but I can’t afford it without good insurance. My colleagues and I feel so betrayed. “
Chapter President Anand Singh said it was no coincidence that the company announced the changes at the time the regulation went into effect last month.
“We believe that it is not only hideous but also illegal,” said Singh. He added that the union was working with the San Francisco board of directors on options like revoking the company’s operating license. He said he believed the regulation would continue to apply to workers, roughly 60% of Sky Chefs’ SFO workforce, even if they had moved as they still serve flights from San Francisco.
Singh said to his knowledge that other companies affected by the regulation are complying or are working to do so. “Sky Chefs shouldn’t be allowed to bypass the law and get away with it. It would set a dangerous precedent, ”he said.
Sky Chefs said in an email that the move was part of an earlier plan to consolidate the San Jose grocery store as a lease with SFO expired and the pandemic dried up demand for air travel and catering services through connection.
“The number of current employees who will move from SFO to SJC will total around 15-20,” the company said, adding that some employees will remain at their warehouse with SFO. The company said it complied with the regulation and the closure was not associated with it.
Singh, the president of the union chapter, also said these employees could be paid up to $ 4 an hour less if they were relocated to San Jose.
“All employees will continue to receive their normal wages at this point,” the company said.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who co-authored the ordinance with Supervisor Shamann Walton, issued a statement calling for a hearing on the matter and what he described as “outrageous violations” of the ordinance.
In a statement requesting the hearing, Mandelman said the company ignored the regulation, including refusing to inform affected employees of their rights.
“The Runaway Shop is not a new tactic. For decades it has been used by companies looking to evade hard-won labor protection laws, ”Mandelman said in the statement.
The Airlines for America trade association has previously filed a lawsuit against San Francisco over the ordinance and is seeking a declaratory and restraining order from its requirements.
Chase DiFeliciantonio is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ChaseDiFelice