Union members working for airline caterer Gate Gourmet have voted 3,860 to 240 to reject cuts in wages and benefits sought in a final proposal by the company.
Gate Gourmet, a US-based company with operations in a number of European countries including the UK, had warned that a rejection could mean bankruptcy for the company.
Workers were aware of the impact the terror attacks on the US in 2001 on the catering market, but they viewed the company’s demands as being too severe given the low wages they already earned, the US union Unite Here said.
The employees rejected more than $40m (£22m) in annual concessions in the form of double-digit wage cuts, frozen pensions and radical cost increases for healthcare.
Ken Paulsen, spokesman for the Joint Labor Council, said: “It’s time for Gate Gourmet to work with its employees and the union as partners.
“We are willing to work with the company, but our working class members refuse to bear the entire burden so that (the parent company) can simply sell Gate Gourmet at a higher premium.”
A spokesman for Gate Gourmet said: “We are disappointed that employees in the US rejected a new cost-cutting contract that would have achieved necessary labor cost reductions as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts.
“In light of the balloting results, Gate Gourmet is reviewing its options going forward. Our strong preference remains to reach consensual agreements with the labor groups that will provide the savings critical to a successful restructuring.”
The Unite union is backed by the Transport & General Workers Union in the UK.