FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Police arrested 58 people in Fort Worth Tuesday after they blocked the entrance to American Airlines new headquarters.
The civil disobedience was the beginning of three days of planned demonstrations in the area by workers who keep airplanes stocked with food and drinks.
Members of Unite Here, the union representing catering workers, traveled to Fort Worth from across the country to push for higher wages from LSG Sky Chef, the company contracted to handle food service for American.
Unite says some workers at DFW earn less than $10 per hour, and that one in four who work at American hubs can earn less than $12 per hour.
“Nobody should be in poverty here in America,” said Bobby Kirkpatrick, an employee from North Carolina. “It shouldn’t be happening in America. Sky Chefs, American Airlines, are making billions of dollars, and want people to live in property? Not in America, it’s not going to happen.”
The protests had the attention Tuesday of some Democrats running for president, with Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris both posting their support for workers on Twitter.
Catering workers protesting at American Airlines HQ (Credit: CBS 11 News)Although American does not directly employ the workers, they believe the airline has a strong influence over what Sky Chefs can afford to pay.
In a statement, American said it understood costs would increase with a new contract, but it urged both sides to bargain and get a deal done.
LSG Sky Chefs responded to the demonstrations, writing in part, “Our company has offered improvements in wages, and is discussing numerous other issues covered by our collective bargaining agreements.”
Tuesday afternoon demonstrators moved to Terminal D at the airport to picket outside. They were expected to continue picketing at other terminals during the day on Wednesday.
Workers who were arrested received a citation for obstructing streets and sidewalks, which comes with a $274 fine.