Unite Here Local 11, the union representing concession workers at Dodger Stadium, voted to authorize a strike on Sunday, threatening both Dodgers games and other major events in the area, including next weeks MLB All-Star Game, the first in LA since 1980.
In Sunday’s vote, 99% of Unite Here union members, which includes 1,500 food servers, bartenders, suite attendants, cooks and dishwashers at Dodger Stadium, were in favor of striking at any time. The reasoning behind authorizing a strike was to put pressure on officials for a new union contract, largely due to rising healthcare and housing costs in the area.
“The pandemic put a stark light on the housing and healthcare disparities that workers face,” said Unite Here Local 11 President Susan Minato on Monday. “Stadium workers are proud of the role they play to bring fans the best game experience possible. They are the backbone of our tourism and sports industry, yet many struggle to stay housed and to make ends meet. They often live with economic uncertainty because the quality of jobs vary stadium to stadium. No worker should have to continue living like this.”
In a statement, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the union that represents 1,200 professional baseball players, supported the Unite Here demands, saying “The MLBPA stands in solidarity with the Dodger Stadium concessions workers represented by Unite Here Local 11. Like thousands of ballpark workers across the country, Local 11’s members are a vital yet under appreciated part of what makes our game great. They deserve to be treated fairly and will continue to have the 1,200 members of the MLBPA behind them.”
MLBPA issues statement of support for Dodger Stadium concession workers: pic.twitter.com/gCgHzidicd
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) July 11, 2022
However, despite some support for Unite Here, many more on Monday were furious at the union, including many local businesses depending on Dodgers games and the upcoming All-Star game for an increase of business after a rough two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A possible strike in LA
“We have still not recovered fully,” explained Luis Cruz, a local bar owner nearby Dodger Stadium that caters to fans both before and after games. “The All-Star Game, with so many people coming in, we are depending on that. If the concession workers strike, and these games and festivities have to be altered, it could bring a loss of business.”
“You would think people would just eat more at local restaurants and bars before the game and help us out, but I’ve talked to people in places where things like this have happened before and it kind of made it a ghost town because the strike scared people away. These people about to strike only care about themselves and not about the thousands who they might effect. And I’m usually pro-union. I won’t cross picket lines. But after seeing what these people are threatening, Jesus, I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong and I still get a bump in business, but I have a bad feeling about this if they really do strike.”
Strikes around sporting events is not an uncommon occurrence, and in the past, it has caused many disruptions for not only local businesses, but to the detriment to the teams, organizations, and even the unions themselves.
“Some sporting event strikes by stadium workers or construction workers have been bad,” explained Amy Phillipe, a sports historian in New York to the Globe. “Every Summer Olympics since the 60’s, except for ’84 which was ironically in LA, has had strikes greatly affect the games,. You had the Mexico City police firing at protesters in the 1968 games. In 1976 the stadium in Montreal wasn’t even finished due to a long construction strike. And even more recent ones like Rio in 2016 still had the Olympic village not ready on opening day with athletes scrambling for last minute accommodations.”
“Nationally, while not as bad, it’s still not great. Unions have delayed stadium openings and everything, and that’s not including the multiple lockouts players unions caused. Fans hated players for a long time after the 1994 MLB strike, an NHL lockout in the mid 2000’s caused financial trouble for the league for a long time, and the 1987 NFL strike only averted complete disaster because so many players crossed the picket line after replacement players came that it broke the union.”
“The Dodger Stadium thing now, it’s not up to those levels, but it would still greatly disrupt things. Replacement employees come at a premium now due to the great replacement continuing, so management will either pay more or hold out during one of baseball’s premier events and numerous games of the MLB’s best per-game fan attendance teams. And if people don’t go, local businesses will hurt. We’ve seen it happen before countless times. They have a right to be worried.”
More on a possible is expected later this week. The MLB All-Star game is to be held on July 19th in Los Angeles.um. No worker should have to continue living like this.”
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