Airline Caterer Gate Gourmet Inches Closer to Possible Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Gate Gourmet and unions representing some of its workers were released from mandatory labor talks, moving the airline catering company one step closer to a strike that would cause problems for US carriers this summer.

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The National Mediation Board said Monday that a 30-day “cooling off” period had begun for the company and labor groups Unite Here and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Without an agreement or intervention from the White House, a walkout could occur as early as July 30, the board said in a statement. The employees are barred from walking off the job until then under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs union relations in the air travel industry.

“While Gate Gourmet presented an industry-leading offer to the union at our latest negotiations, we were unfortunately unable to come to an agreement,” the company said in an emailed statement. Gate Gourmet said it will continue to work toward a deal that “recognizes our valued employees” and avoids disruption.

Unite Here didn’t immediately comment on the NMB action.

The pro-labor Biden administration has been hoping that pressure from the NMB would lead to agreements and avoid any disruptions during the busy summer travel season. Mediators are also overseeing negotiations between American Airlines Group Inc. and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

--With assistance from Ted Mann.

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