Business As Usual At Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Despite Strike That Attempted to Disrupt Service to Travelers

Real Motivations For Strike Now Becoming Clearer Including Asking Striking Arizona Workers To Subsidize California Counterparts


(PHOENIX) HMSHost and its valued employees continue to serve the traveling public at Sky Harbor Airport despite a strike that is both puzzling and counterproductive. Despite Unite Here Local 11’s decision to call a strike that began November 22nd at Sky Harbor, the company is proud to report that more than 85% of its employees remain on the job. As a result, these employees continue to earn paychecks and the traveling public continues to be served during a very busy holiday season.

HMSHost, which operates numerous restaurants at Sky Harbor, wishes to thank these dedicated employees for stepping up. Their commitment is offsetting the strike of a very small percentage of employees. Thanks to their efforts, it is business nearly as usual at most HMSHost locations at Sky Harbor.

Despite the company’s offers to significantly increase pay and improve benefits, the Union walked away from the bargaining table in 2018. HMSHost did not want to let the impasse negatively impact its employees, so it raised wage rates by 16% and lowered healthcare costs without a contract.

After the pandemic, HMSHost offered positions to 100% of its workforce that had been laid off despite an initial decline in revenues. Following discussions with the Union about COVID-19 related issues, the company continued to seek an agreement.

Earlier in November, HMSHost offered Unite Here Local 11 a proposal that further increases wages with many positions paying more than $15 an hour and a healthcare plan that covers 90% of employee costs, with plans that cost as little as $13 a week for individual coverage and $40 a week for a family. The package is top tier for the Phoenix market.

HMSHost believes the strike is not about wages and benefits but rather Unite Here Local 11’s demand that the company transition from a 401K plan that benefits all workers in favor of the out of state Los Angeles Hotel Restaurant Retirement Fund that benefits far fewer employees. HMSHost currently matches employee contributions up to 4.5% of wages in the 401K plan and the employee has 100% immediate vesting so they take the full value of their account if they leave. The Union pension plan gives workers less control of their contributions and requires associates to work five calendar years before they are vested. If the worker leaves before five years, they will get nothing, and the Pension Fund would pocket the contributions made on behalf of that worker. That may be good for the Union but it’s a bad deal for workers. And it is asking Arizona workers to subsidize those in California.

HMSHost Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Laura E. FitzRandolph said, “The needs of our associates come first. They are our most important investment. That’s why HMSHost would rather put its resources into wages and benefits. We can’t understand why the Union would try to penalize the traveling public by calling a strike over the holidays. The company remains committed to the top tier package it has on the table and encourages the Union to respond to our offer at the negotiations table, which they have to date refused to do. The Union is walking away from negotiations at a time when there is a contract on the table that is a win-win for workers and travelers. They are literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for all.”

HMSHost also denies the baseless claims of racial discrimination over wages. Those wages are determined by the collective bargaining agreement as agreed to by HMSHost and the Union itself.  Furthermore, HMSHost empowers its team of diverse associates to succeed. With locations in airports across North America, HMSHost offers the size, resources, training, diversity, and advancement opportunities second to none helping workers reach important career goals.