Pearson flights could be affected after Toronto airline food service staff threaten strike

If you’re flying out of Toronto Pearson International Airport next week, you might not get any snacks or meals during your flight.

Teamsters Local Union 647 announced that over 800 workers at the airline catering company Gate Gourmet voted nearly 99 per cent in favour of strike action. The workers are tasked with cooking, packing and delivering meals, snacks, beverages, and other supplies to planes for in-flight service.

The union says Gate Gourmet workers in Toronto are paid well below industry standards, in the hourly range of between $17.69 and $20, and wants to close that gap.

“We are in a cost-of-living crisis, but Gate Gourmet is ignoring their employees’ families’ basic needs and won’t agree to pay workers a living wage,” said lead union negotiator and president of Teamsters Local Union 647, Martin Cerqua.

“We’re going on strike unless this company steps up to the plate and finally acknowledges how expensive life has gotten.”

Airlines affected by a potential strike include Air Canada, West Jet, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Air India, Aero Mexico, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and Jetlines. A spokesperson with Teamsters Canada confirmed with CityNews that a walkout would disrupt between 230 and 250 flights daily, equivalent to roughly 25 per cent of daily flights travelling through Toronto Pearson.

WestJet plane at Toronto Pearson Airport. Photo: CityNews.

Teamsters Canada claims staffing levels have also been slashed since the pandemic, leading to increased workplace accidents. Teamsters Local Union 647, which represents approximately 3,000 food industry workers in Ontario, cited seven hi-lift truck drivers who have been injured in the past three months.

“Our members like their jobs and want to work, but not at any cost. Safety and dignity are paramount,” added Cerqua.

“Gate Gourmet thinks it can put profits over people with no consequences. But its corporate greed means passengers might go hungry.”

Gate Gourmet is the largest airline catering company operating out of Toronto.

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