Teamsters Say Unsafe Working Conditions Could Cause Delays at ATL
We are all used to the typical delays at airports due to weather and crew or mechanical issues with our plane. In what might seem an odd expansion of that list, your next delay might just be caused by the catering truck -- at least according to the Teamsters.
A recent survey by the union of drivers for Gate Gourmet — a catering company that supplies Delta as well as other carriers operating from ATL — found some serious problems:
- 97% of drivers report knowing of a vehicle in service that has a "NO-GO" status, meaning there is a problem with the vehicle like broken safety rails, missing emergency equipment or even broken brakes.
- Drivers reported at least 46 catering trucks that should immediately be removed from service according to Gate Gourmet's own policies.
- 86% of respondents reported knowing of fleet vehicles that are infested with rodents, ants, or other insects.
According to Steve Vairma, the Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division, the union has been working with Gate Gourmet to address the issues. However, Vairma says that even though the company has said it will fix the fleet, it's lowering safety standards in order for more of its fleet to meet operational requirements.
"The Teamsters are calling on Gate Gourmet to stop putting the public and our workers at risk by immediately allowing for an independent safety audit of Gate Gourmet's vehicle fleet led by a neutral third party with participation from worker representatives," Vairma said.
Vairma also said that "travelers departing from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport should bring their own food and beverages on flights," even though the statement by the Teamsters makes no mention of any issues related to food safety.
The Teamsters also said in a separate statement that Gate Gourmet employees at ATL and Washington - Dulles airport have been demonstrating for higher pay, with 73% of members polled in ATL saying they had to put off paying bills in order to afford buying food.