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October 4, 2022

Earlier this week, more than 1,000 food workers at San Francisco International Airport went on strike, resulting in the sudden closure of nearly all restaurants, bars, lounges, and coffee shops inside the airport, through the SF Gate. In a statement posted on Twitter, the striking workers announced, “Most of us haven’t had a raise in three years, and we’re tired of working two or three jobs to survive. So we’re fighting.” At a previous protest on August 18, workers even chanted, “One job must be enough!” Before the strike, most food workers at San Francisco’s airport earned about $17 an hour, which is above the city’s minimum wage of $16.99, per CNN.

The strike effectively shut down 84 restaurants in the San Francisco Airport for three days, reports Restaurant Business Online. For an airport like this, this kind of closure is a big deal. In 2021, more than 24,000,000 passengers passed through San Francisco International Airport, and in 2019, it was more than 57,488,023 passengers.

The salary negotiations have been going on for nine months with no real end in sight (via SF Gate), so the staff tried another way to negotiate – and it worked. Now, food workers at the San Francisco airport have ended their strike after achieving “significant” success, according to Restaurant Business Online.

A win for the airport food workers

A bargaining committee of 80 San Francisco Airport food workers has agreed to a contract they were offered, reports Restaurant Business Online. But, since the agreement has not yet been officially signed by the union, the terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. What we do know, so far, is that the workers got health insurance that also extends to their families and an unknown salary increase.

Union protests like this have been changing the food service industry in recent years. According to the National Labor Relations Board, union elections have increased by 58% this year, and workers’ compensation has increased by 16%. For example, 238 Starbucks stores nationwide have joined as of December 2021, per CNBC. Last month, Massachusetts Trader Joe’s became the first to join, expressing a willingness via Twitter to “[sit] down at the negotiating table as an equal with our employer.”

While this victory is important, it is the beginning of a larger discussion about workers’ rights in the U.S. labor market. As Senator Bernie Sanders said on Twitter last month, “Our job is not only to promote labor in this country. We also need to break these antiquated laws that make it harder for workers to organize and easier for employers to refuse to negotiate.”