Striking Out - Page 3

Stadium concession workers — without a contract since 2010, denied tip jars, some paid less than minimum wage — aren't sharing in the San Francisco Giants' success and rising prices

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The workers who sell beers and hawk sodas at Giants games want a new contract.
ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN HERSEY

That protest followed a more significant action on May 25, when all of the 750 workers staged an one day strike, authorized by a 500-16 vote by workers. For that game, Centerplate employed volunteer workers who only got paid in tips. Yes, the scabs got the tips that the regular workers are being denied.

Food and drink service during that game was significantly slower than normal, as even the Giants acknowledged. There were reports of fans standing up to 40 minutes in line for a beer, which is usually more than two innings, an amount of playing time that few true baseball fan would ever give up for a beer run.

Critics—including several passerby fans who were loudly expressing their disdain for the demonstrators at the Giants-Padres game—say the workers should be content with what they have, perhaps assuming the workers were getting more from that $10 beer than they really are.

When Pearlie Jones started working concessions at Giants games 22 years ago, hot dogs were $3. Today they sell for twice that amount at the stand that Jones now manages.

We met Jones at the Local 2 building in the Tenderloin. She lives in Daly City, survives on unemployment during the off-season, and has no other source for health insurance. With nervous laughter, Jones told us she "prays to God during [the off season] that I don't get sick."

Wendelburger, who has to commute almost two hours each way to the ball park, works as a bartender during the off-season, although he can only get three days a week. When asked about health insurance during the off-season, this husband and father of two says, "Unless I'm going to die, I'm not going to see a doctor."

But Jones says that as important as improved wages and healthcare benefits are to her and other employees, they really fear losing their jobs: "Our job security is the main issue that we're pushing for right now."

One issue that seems telling of the way Centerplate and the Giants are treating concession workers is on the issue of tips. The workers are currently not allowed a tip jar or a tip line on credit card receipts, a standard feature of food service, particularly here in the Bay Area, where even butchers and bakers have tip jars.

Ramirez says she's utterly baffled by Centerplate's stubbornness on the issue. "A tip line is something that doesn't cost management anything and requires a small change in the computer system and is something the customers are actually demanding. We have a great experience with our fans and customers and they want to share their gratitude and they can't," she told us.

Another seemingly minor yet deadlocked issue is the request for benches for in-seat food runners. These workers currently have nowhere to sit for breaks or in between food runs, yet Centerplate has refused to budge on that issue.

When asked about these minor demands, a Centerplate spokesperson said that they have not seen any list of demands from Local 2, a statement disputed by workers and Local 2.

Centerplate has cast workers as greedy, even filing a lawsuit against Local 2 claiming that the union and the workers are trying to exploit the Giants' World Series championships, an action that the union and its workers heard about from reporters, adding to the aura of mistrust hanging over these negotiations.

 

 

LONG STANDOFF

Both sides have accused the other of not operating in good faith, something they both hope will change when negotiations resume on July 29.

Centerplate says it wants to give the workers a contract, but blames the deadlocked negotiations on Local 2 head Mike Casey, who also serves as the elected president of the San Francisco Labor Council.

Comments

They are not in a strong negotiating position because, duh, anyone could do their job.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 4:46 am

Anyone, huh ? I bet "dollars to doughnuts" most people with your (ignorant) opinion are all talk, no action.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 4:59 am

(And I was one during college, so I know the answer - not much).

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 5:41 am

They giants hired replacement workers for the game the workers went strike on and the giants themselves admitted that service was of significantly less quality.
Turns out this job is a lot harder than what meets the eye.

But thanks for commenting on my story and feel free to let me know any other thoughts/ideas/comments/musings/etc.. you have!

Posted by George on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 8:49 am

dogs is "a lot harder than we think"?

And, before you answer, bear in mind that I have sold hot dogs, and it is piss easy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:03 am

Have you sold hot dogs to a 1000+ people in the span of 2-3 hours in a speedy manner.

Posted by George on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:20 am
Yes

Did you have another question?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:45 am

If you don't like the pay, don't take the job.

"Progressive" whining about other people's problems helps nobody

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 7:31 am

and make a better future for themselves. The last thing we need is the European idea of a nanny state micromanaging everything.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 7:49 am

free education and healthcare. A government not on bended knee to its corporate "citizens." I guess cuz they only have soccer as national sports this idiot can't relate to real progress

Posted by Guest Yeah, Europe sucks - 6 weeks paid vacation on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 7:58 am

everyone "free" healthcare and education?

Hint. More than you earn in a year.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 8:09 am

Compared to our current terrible private insurance system, not much. Single payer universal health care like they have in Canada is actually far less expensive than America's private insurance scheme.

Posted by Get Educated on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:08 am

people won't cost much?

And they are probably the least healthy people in the US!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:42 am

There is already free education for all K-12 graders. Go to an emergency room when you need care and you will not be turned away - whether you can pay or not.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:37 am

That is, non emergencies.

So you have t wait a year or two until you are dying and then the ER will see you. Maybe.

Free healthcare and college education would require 60% tax rates on the middle classes - not gonna happen.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 8:48 am

free education and healthcare and governments not afraid to stand up to its corporate "citizens." I guess because soccer is the national sport, this idiot can't relate to them... micromanaging everything my left nut

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 7:59 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 8:08 am

People who have adequate vacation time are more productive when at work.
People who are on vacation spend more money than people who are at the office.

It's really not that hard to figure out.

Posted by Get Educated on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:09 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:43 am

They get plenty of vacation time in Greece - more than any other country in Europe. They also have 26% unemployment.

BTW - these part-time workers work 81 days per year, for 4 hours per day. Less than 20% of a full-time equivelent. NO ONE expects to live on this job. It is either a supplement to their regular gigs, or they are baseball fans who like to go to the ballpark and get paid. I know many workers there. They are nice people, but that is the way it is.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 9:46 am

workers because employers are exempt for any worker doing less than 30 hours. So guess what will happen?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 10:10 am

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