OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Around 180 food and retail workers staged a one-day strike at Oakland International Airport Friday, picketing in front of the airport to protest what they say are efforts by their employer to cut pay and benefits.

The employees, represented by the union Unite Here Local 2850, are employed by HMSHost, a contractor with the Port of Oakland.

The union’s contract expired in July 2012 and union officials say the company’s current contract proposals call for reduced vacation and sick days, the elimination of pensions and paid meal breaks, pay cuts for new hires and a wage freeze for longtime workers, as well as the removal of workers from the union’s health insurance plan.

Restaurants and stores at the airport are being staffed by managers and non-union employees on Friday, according to HMSHost spokeswoman Sarah Cody.

The company, noting that airport passengers levels have fallen from 14.6 million five years ago to 10 million in 2012, said in a statement that it has made a “fair offer” that “reflects the economic conditions we are all facing.”

Union officials say clerks earn between $9.75 and $12.64 an hour, while a spokeswoman for HMSHost said employees at the airport earned an average of around $13.62 per hour plus benefits.

HMSHost won a 12-year contract for services with Oakland International Airport in 2006.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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