Skift Take

United probably wishes the workers would have rejected the union. But four-fifths of the airline's workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements, so it's mostly business as usual.

Catering employees at United Continental Holdings Inc. have voted to join the Unite Here union, marking the last group of front-line employees at the carrier to seek labor representation.

The vote was announced Tuesday by the National Mediation Board, with 72 percent of those eligible to vote supporting the effort.

Overall, Chicago-based United has about 2,900 catering employees who work at kitchens in four United hubs—Denver, Houston, Newark, New Jersey, and San Francisco—as well as in Cleveland and Honolulu. Almost 2,200 workers were eligible to participate and more than 1,700 voted, according to a union spokeswoman.

United acquired the work group in its merger with Continental Airlines; other U.S. carriers have outsourced their on-board catering functions to contractors such as Gate Gourmet International AG and LSG Sky Chefs. United also uses such firms for some of its catering needs. About 80 percent of United’s 88,000 employees are represented by a union.

United said it’s “committed to treating all of our employees with dignity and respect, and the outcome of this election does not change that.” The company added that it has “a strong track record” of working closely with unions.

During the organization drive, Unite Here and the airline both filed complaints with the National Mediation Board alleging improper actions by the other side. The board rejected both parties’ allegations.

Unite Here represents 300,000 U.S. and Canadian hospitality workers, including 18,000 airline catering workers at four companies, including United.

“My co-workers and I have fought so hard for this day because we know that we deserve to be equal with all the other United employees,” Lakisha McIntosh, who works in the Newark kitchen, said in a Unite Here news release.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Justin Bachman from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Tags: airline catering, airline innovation, united airlines

Photo Credit: United Airlines catering workers have voted to join a union. Pictured are United jets at Newark, one of the affected airports. Bloomberg