Striking Out - Page 4

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

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

"Unfortunately, Local 2 and its leader Mike Casey have not responded to our economic proposal. Our employees, and Local 2 members, remain without a contract, raise, bonus, and health security all because of Casey's failures," Centerplate spokesperson Gina Antonini told us.

But the concession workers seem to strongly support Casey, who was on vacation and unavailable for comment. "I have tremendous faith in our Local 2 union leadership. Mike Casey is brilliant," Patricia Ramirez, a line cook of 14 years, told us. "I think Casey and [Local 2 organizer] Alphonso Pines are leading us in the right way and I think we're going to win because of their guidance."

Centerplate seemed unaware of Casey's local reputation and community support. "The entire labor community is supporting Local 2 and our message is clear: If you have to go to the games, don't buy the food" San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson told us.

Local 2's tough, deliberate, long-term strategy is one that has paid big dividends numerous times in its history, even if it has resulted in long standoffs with management, as was been the case with hotel workers in San Francisco.

"We have seen plenty of times that they have deadlocked for a period of time, they hold out, they tend to fight as long as it takes, and they tend to win" said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

For their part, concession workers involved in the negotiations blame Centerplate lawyer and lead negotiator George Aude and his abrasive style for the impasse and the tense relations. Several workers we talked to cited Aude's disrespectful demeanor, with one worker calling him a "giant hothead".

In one of the negotiations, Aude made several irate comments, which Local 2 took as a threat. They say Aude demanded of the Local 2, "If you don't stop all these actions you've been doing, we'll offer you less money."

We reached Aude to comment on the contract talks, he said simply "unsatisfied," and when we asked for further details, Aude hung up and refused to answer our calls.




Mayor Ed Lee says he's urging the two sides to settle the standoff and that he has offered to help, although he's leaving it to the mediators involved. So for those keeping score, City Hall has offered help but the Giants organization has not.

Yet Lee's half-hearted offer to help Giants workers belies his zealous efforts to promote the Giants and its brand. In February, Lee and the Giants launched a citywide anti-litter program called "The Giant Sweep," named in honor of the Giants' sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series.

"Last year the Giants showed us that winning the World Series took a team effort that went far beyond individual heroics. It required the effort of every player, coach, manager, and support staff — not to mention the fans — to build a championship team. The same approach is needed to attack San Francisco's litter problem. The Giant Sweep will help San Francisco remain a place where people want to live, work and visit," the Mayor's Office said in announcing the program.

Mayor Lee and Gavin Newsom awarded the Giants a "Key to the City" for their World Series wins. Pitcher Matt Cain was awarded a "Key" last year for his perfect game against the Houston Astros. Even disgraced slugger Barry Bonds was given a "Key" after passing Hank Aaron on the all time home run list in August 2007.