A strike that threatened food services for Miami International Airport passengers just before Christmas was averted late Monday after restaurant workers reached a tentative deal with management.
Concessionaire HMSHost and the Unite Here Local 355 union agreed to new labor-contract terms at Monday’s bargaining session, both sides confirmed Tuesday. The union had voted to strike any time after Monday if the negotiations, which had been ongoing for seven months, remained stuck over worker healthcare benefits.
“Both parties, HMSHost and Unite Here Local 355, worked very hard together to create a deal that will benefit all involved,” Sarah Cody, the company’s senior director for communications and public relations, said in an email. “We’re continuing a positive relationship with the union and our associates at MIA.”
Neither side spelled out the details of the agreement. The major sticking point had been HMSHost’s proposal to begin charging some employees for insurance coverage, a move the union said would be unaffordable for most of its low-wage members. A contract-ratification vote has been scheduled for next Tuesday at the airport.
“I can confidently walk into the airport tomorrow with my head held high and say that we have reached an agreement that protects our benefits and the standards we have set in the airport,” union negotiator Caleb St. Louis said in a prepared statement.
Union members staged a rally at the airport 10 days before the bargaining session to draw public attention to the standoff and vote to authorize a strike. HMSHost had vowed to keep its MIA eateries open in the event of a walkout, though it was unclear how the company would accomplish that and whether passengers might still have noticed a disruption.
HMSHost, a subsidiary of Milan, Italy-based Autogrill S.p.A., operates 35 of the airport’s 78 concessions, according to MIA, including California Pizza Kitchen, Sbarro’s and Burger King.