Striking Out - Page 5

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

"You know, we usually give keys to individual dignitaries who have accomplished great things, whether it was the president of Ireland, or Tony Bennett, or even a Matt Cain on his wonderful perfect game in San Francisco," Lee said during last year's celebration. "We normally celebrate those individual accomplishments, but today, we're gonna break with that tradition and present this key to the entire team and coaching staff, everybody involved in the Giants, the investors, their front office. Congratulations to a team that doesn't know how to quit, never gives up, and defied the odds at every opportunity."

Then the city spent nearly a reported quarter-million-dollars to throw its team a massive victory parade and San Franciscans went wild in celebrating the Giants, once again, as the concession workers waited to feel like part of the team.

Could Lee or other City Hall figures help solve the standoff? Other mayors have successfully intervened in situations like this before. In 2004, then-Mayor Newsom sided with the 4,300 picketing hotel workers after the hotels refused his request to end a lockout.

Less than a year before that, Newsom ran for mayor as a "business friendly centrist" who raised millions of dollars from the hotel industry and other downtown business interests. But when he saw that hotel management wasn't being reasonable, he used the power of his office to help broker an agreement.

It would seem Lee could do the same thing if he wanted, particularly given that the Giants are currently asking the city for land and support to help grow its business.

STADIUM SPRAWL

The Giants organization is currently working on a $1.6 billion, 27-acre development project at Pier 48, located on the opposite side of Mission Creek from AT&T Park. The gargantuan project will include 1,000 housing units, 125,000 square feet of retail, 1.7 million square feet of office space, 2,690 garage parking spaces, and more than eight acres of public space. The project is on public land and will be subject to numerous approval processes, by both the city and the Port of San Francisco. Pier 48 and Seawall Lot 337 are some of the last valuable, easily developable sections of waterfront in San Francisco, so one might say the team is asking a lot from the community. And of course, Mayor Lee offered unqualified, enthusiastic support for the project, telling the Chronicle, "Among my highest priorities is to make sure our homegrown companies can stay, grow, and hire right here in San Francisco, driving job growth, improving our neighborhoods, and in this case our world-class waterfront." But Lee, Centerplate, and the Giants seem to think that just creating jobs is enough, regardless of pay, benefits, and job security. "The success of a Major League Baseball club is measured by more than game-winning rallies and pennant drives. Beyond the box scores, a ballclub has a unique opportunity to create partnerships to improve the quality of life in its community," the Giants proclaim on its community page. But for Giants workers, such sentiments have done little to improve their quality of life.