Update: This story has been updated with additional information about SFO restaurant closures due to the airport worker strike on September 26.
Frycooks and baristas at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) have gone on strike in protest of pay and working conditions, resulting in a temporary closure of many food and beverage outlets at the Bay Area airport. About 1,000 airport food workers from 84 food and beverage outposts went on strike through the Unite Here Local 2 union at 6:00 a.m. on September 26, SFGATE reported first.
What does this mean for travelers trying to get a morning latte or pre-flight sandwich? Ted Waechter, a media representative for the union, said Monday morning that most restaurants are closed, and the few that are open have enormous lines. “That’s because the people who brew your coffee are outside demonstrating,” Waechter says. Restaurants Eater SF has confirmed as closed include Burger King, Klein’s Deli, Union Street Gastropub, and even the United Club, where a piece of paper is printed and taped to the door announcing the closure, Waechter says. One outlet confirmed open is Dogpatch Bakehouse & Caffé where lines are, reportedly, tremendously long.
Eater SF reached out to a number of companies regarding their airport outposts’ hours and staffing — many are still unsure if their shops are open, will stay open, or will be at full capacity. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
Obviously, packing your own food is the move; one reader let Eater SF know that United Airlines texted her to bring food and expect long lines. Through a union press release, workers also suggest travelers bring their own food, though Doug Yakel, the public information officer for SFO’s External Affairs Office, said in an emailed statement Monday that newsstands will be open (think snack bars, smoothies, packaged goods). “Some food and beverage outlets are closed, while others remain open with limited hours and offerings,” Yakel says. Online ordering for restaurants that serve at SFO such as Goldilocks Filipino Cuisine in Harvey Milk Terminal 1, is unavailable.
The union members have held ongoing demonstrations since Friday, September 16, including a traffic interruption that resulted in a mass police citation of 41 protestors with politicians including District Supervisor hopeful Honey Mahogany, Supervisors Connie Chan and Gordon Mar, and San Jose’s Assemblymember Ash Kalra and San Mateo County’s state Senator Josh Becker among the protestor ranks. The main cause of the demonstrations and strike is many workers’ going three years without a pay raise, the union’s representatives have told a number of news outlets.
Waechter told Axios the striking workers’ average pay is $17.05 per hour, but after nine months of negotiations with restaurant operators, the airport still has not agreed to increase wages. The airport apologizes in advance for any inconvenience in receiving full meals, though no comment was made regarding wages, working conditions, or the future of the airport’s relationship with its employees, perhaps what should be top of mind for the expansive travel center. There is no determined end in sight for the strike.