Meet the Workers: Stephen “Step” Bethea

Stephen “Step” Bethea
BWI Airport — Baltimore, MD
member of UNITE HERE Local 7

Step has been an airline food worker in cold prep for 29 years. He is the 7th child out of 16, and went to school in Baltimore public schools. One of his best moments at the airport was when he helped organize his shop in 1992.

He was fed up from Day 1. Born a leader, Step stood up to his bosses to show them that the workers had the power. Fighting for the people who don’t have a voice, for the people who don’t stick up for themselves, and his grandchildren and their futures, Step joined the Fed Up tour.

His demands? Respect, health insurance, and a wage that would allow workers to send their grandchildren to college.

Press Advisory for June 12 — Washington, D.C.

Tour of airline food workers to rally near offices of airline lobby group

13 workers from across the U.S. to tell airlines they are Fed Up with poverty wages, treatment of passengers

Contact:
Meghan Cohorst, 239-503-1533, [email protected]
Adam Yalowitz, 202-826-4086, [email protected]

What: Airline food workers rally outside offices of Airlines for America, the industry lobby group
When: Monday, June 12, 3pm
Where: 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 300
Who: Airline food workers from across the country who prepare, pack and deliver food and beverages to commercial aircraft

NOTE: Airline food workers are available now through June 11 for interviews on their personal experiences working to prepare and deliver food for American and other major airlines, including their poor wages and working conditions, and how they are connected to passenger treatment. Read more

Workers arrive in Charlotte for FED UP tour!

Workers from all over the country are setting off on tour to tell American Airlines that they’re FED UP. Airline passengers have had declining customer experiences, more fees for once free amenities (like checked baggage) and airline food service workers are paid poverty wages. During the  “Fed Up Tour” the workers who prepare, pack and transport the food served on flights for American will engage passengers fed up with an industry that makes $35 billion in profits while workers and passengers are left behind.

Highlights from the tour include stops in Charlotte, NC, Washington D.C, Philadelphia on the way to the American Airlines shareholders meeting in New York City.

On Saturday workers spent the day getting to know each other, and they prepped for a great 4 days on the road.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Meet the Workers: Nelson Robinson

Nelson Robinson
DCA Airport – Washington D.C.
member of Unite Here Local 23


Nelson has been an airline food worker, as a flight coordinator, for 7 years. He’s 38 years old, has two children, and also takes care of his parents. His favorite moment as a worker there was when he helped win his first grievance case, it really felt like the workers had power in that moment. Nelson is fed up because he’s overworked and underpaid. The airlines can improve by treating the workers better, giving the workers the raises they deserve, and providing proper equipment.

Nelson became a leader in his workplace because he knew it was time for someone to step up. Since it’s a diverse workplace, he knew it needed a voice, and he had respect from his coworkers. He fights because his coworkers work so hard to make ends meet by doing overtime or getting a second job. He wants others to know the fight is real, and to follow the tour, see our stories and to come out and see the workers for yourself.

Meet the Workers: Rosa Guerrero

Rosa Guerrero
IAH Airport – Houston, Texas
member of Unite Here Local 23

She fights for the newer generations coming after her, and not only for herself, but for all the people.  Justice in this campaign would mean that workers would get fair wages, and it would help her coworkers believe in the things they work for. She wants people just learning about the fed up tour to know that airline food workers are working really, really hard. There needs to be action taken. As workers, we need to support each other and share what we’re doing. Through sharing, we can show everyone we’re fighting and that we mean business.

Meet the Workers: Bharat Patel

Bharat Patel
ORD Airport – Chicago, Illinois
member of Unite Here Local 1


Bharat has been working as an airline food worker for over a year and a half. Originally from India, Bharat helps to translate for his coworkers, and one of his favorite parts of the job is getting to know all of his coworkers and helping people understand the union. Bharat is fed up because the airline companies make $35 billion in profits, yet their employees work hard to make delivery times and don’t get fairly compensated. People who work should have good pay.

Bharat encourages other workers to join the fight because we’re fighting for the true thing, the right thing, and to overcome the initial fear of standing up for yourself. Bharat encourages people just learning about the campaign to wake up, fight for their rights. We work for the airlines, so why won’t they work for us?

Meet the Workers: Maria Carillo

Maria Carillo
SEA Airport – Seattle, Washington
member of Unite Here Local 8

Maria has been working as an airline food worker for 23 years, and has two children. Maria wants airline food companies to give proper equipment to the workers, and wants a higher wage so she can have a better life for her family.

Maria became a leader in her workplace by always helping her coworkers out, and talking to everyone about what’s going on. It’s important to get together so the workers can get their voices heard. Her family and her coworkers motivates her on this campaign. She encourages others just learning about the campaign not to wait, life isn’t going to change unless you fight. We have to do something.

Meet the Workers: Carol Ruiz

Carol Ruiz
EWR Airport – Newark. New Jersey
member of Unite Here Local 100

Carol has been an airline food worker for nine years. She has a passion for what she does, and has faith that the workers will win this campaign. The best moment during her time as an airline food worker was when they had a rally and everyone came outside. She feels that if we get together, we’ll change the future.

Carol is proud to fight for her coworkers, it’s almost like fighting for her family. She urges passengers to join the fight, the more people fighting, the better. The airlines need to be held accountable. She believes that everyone deserves a better future so their dreams can come true. She’s proud of the work she does, putting together beautiful plates for the passengers, making culinary art, but the pay needs to improve.

Meet the Workers: Bobby Kirkpatrick

Bobby Kirkpatrick
CLT Airport – Charlotte, North Carolina
member of Unite Here Local 23


Bobby has been an airline food worker for 37 years, as a driver. He has four daughters and one son. His best moments as a worker there have been seeing other people grow, seeing how his coworkers progress, and being there as his coworkers’ children graduate school. Bobby is fed up with the bad
treatment, poverty pay, and especially the quality of healthcare. He became a leader in his workplace through bringing in the union in 1996 and has been a shop steward since then.

It’s important for others to join the fight because the campaign isn’t only for him and his coworkers, it’s for their families. Men of color, women, everyone, all workers need a union, workers are easily taken advantage of when they’re not unionized.

Meet the Workers: Sothun Sok

Sothun Sok
IAD Airport – Washington D.C.
member of Unite Here Local 23

Sothun Sok is originally from Cambodia. He’s been working as an airline food worker for 5 years, distributing products to different departments. Sothun is fed up with the low pay and lack of respect workers get. In the shop, he encourages workers to work at their own pace, to not let the pressure and stress get to them. When on tour, his most powerful moments were when he saw how different everyone was, yet they were united in demanding dignity from the airline companies.