Gate Gourmet puts profits over people amidst cost-of-living crisis, leading to labour dispute.

Toronto, April 15, 2024 – Gate Gourmet workers will walk off the job at 00:01 on Tuesday after voting 96% to reject a final offer from the company. The workers are tasked with cooking, packing, and delivering meals, snacks, beverages, and other supplies to planes for in-flight service.

The labour dispute will prove highly disruptive. Teamsters Local Union 647, which represents the workers, expects many flights to leave Toronto Pearson Airport with less or no food. Air Canada will be most affected by the strike.  

“Our members accepted a wage freeze during the pandemic to help this company survive. Now their managers brag about how profitable their operations have become at Pearson, while proposing wage increases as low as 89 cents an hour,” explained Martin Cerqua, lead union negotiator and president of Local Union 647.

Workers at the company are paid on average between $17.69 and $20 / hour. These rates fall between $2 and $6 / hour behind other airline catering companies in Toronto and Gate Gourmet workers in Vancouver.

The company also slashed staffing levels since the pandemic, leading to a rise in workplace accidents. Employees often slip, fall, and overexert themselves in an attempt to maintain productivity levels. At least seven hi-lift truck drivers have been injured in the past three months, and many more since the change.

Gate Gourmet employees have a tough job: from working in sweltering kitchens to freezing storage areas, to the challenge of delivering meals to aircraft in all weather conditions—be it storms, blizzards, high winds, or extreme heat. They also navigate a fast-paced and high-pressure environment, ensuring timely service for up to 250 flights every day.

Gate Gourmet is by far the largest airline catering company operating out of Toronto. In addition to Air Canada, airlines affected by a potential strike include West Jet, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Air India, Aero Mexico, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and Jetlines.

Teamsters Local Union 647 represents approximately 3000 food industry workers across Ontario.

At over 125,000 members, Teamsters Canada is the country’s largest transportation and supply chain union. They are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 1.2 million workers in North America.


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