Service workers rally outside airport for air conditioning in trucks

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Service workers rallied at Sky Harbor International Airport Thursday night to improve working conditions and wages. 

Many of these service workers are employed by catering company LSG Sky Chefs, and say they work out on the tarmac for hours at time. They take trucks loaded with food and beverages out to the planes to re-stock them. But they say those trucks don’t have air conditioning. 

Thursday night, about 150 employees rallied outside Terminal 4 to try and spark some change.

Mari Barraza said she likes her job, she just wants air conditioning when she’s out there on the tarmac waiting for more planes. She said they’ve asked management to no avail.

Rachel Sulkes, who works for Unite Here Local 11, the union representing the workers, said they surveyed workers nationwide about their conditions. 

"78% of them [in Phoenix] say they’ve experienced dizziness, fatigue, headaches, symptoms related to heat exposure," Sulkes said.

The union and many employees spoke in front of the city’s aviation board to try and get an ordinance passed to address this.

LSG Sky Chefs sent us the following statement:

LSG Sky Chefs is committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees. As a practical matter, air conditioning in the cab of catering vehicles provides little benefit if drivers spend most of their time outside the cab of the truck, as is the case with our drivers and most of operations on the tarmac at airports. In areas where heat is an issue, LSG Sky Chefs provides opportunities for employees to cool down and stay hydrated. This includes allowing them to bring water or other beverages into the cab of the truck. Employees who have a specific concern or question should speak with their general manager. The report of an accident in Phoenix related to heat exhaustion is false.

The union representing our employees has ongoing opportunities to bring issues to the bargaining table as part of the collective bargaining process, which includes agreed on Safety committees, both parties have agreed to follow. Making false or misleading claims about our company, and trying to circumvent the collective bargain process does not benefit the union or the employees it represents.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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