AT&T Park Concessions Contractor Scores Deal With One Union

The union wishes it was getting a little more relish in the deal
This should ease those more garlic fry sit-ins and hot dog fights.

Centerplate, the concessions and hospitality contractor for the Giants, has announced it reached a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Local 853 union, which represents 200 workers in AT&T Park, Candlestick and the Cow Palace.

"The agreement, which extends through March 31, 2016, includes an immediate wage increase, a signing bonus and excellent health and welfare benefits," the contractor said in a press release on Friday.

Of course, Centerplate wasn't going to sign off on this without one last jab at the other union with which it's still at odds.

And so the proverbial mud slinging -- or should we say sauerkraut, relish and mustard slinging -- continued Friday afternoon in the seemingly never-ending saga between Centerplate, and Local 2 Unite Here, the union representing roughly 700 other workers at AT&T Park as well as Candlestick and the Cow Palace, who, according to their union leader, are incredibly unhappy with the offers on the table from their employer.

The debate between the two entities has already resulted in a one-day strike, complete with a garlic fry concession stand sit-in where supporters asked the public to boycott the ballpark food, as well as arrests, a lawsuit, and plenty of name-calling.

Sam Singer, spokesman for Centerplate, used Friday's news as another chance to verbally whale on Mike Casey, president of Unite Here Local 2, and the union, accusing members of making "non-economic demands outside of the concessionaire's control." He also blames Casey for refusing to bring a counter offer to Centerplate concerning wage increases, of which a Local 2 spokesperson, Julia Wong, has confirmed they have no hard figure set.

Singer emphasized that the Teamsters and Centerplate reached a deal in about six hours, and Local 2 should follow suit and stop "playing fast and loose."

Casey is out of town and unavailable for comment, furthering Singer's vigor in an interview with SF Weekly, where he says that Casey "ought to be embarrassed," because Local 2 doesn't command any respect in the Bay Area as a result of Casey's unprofessional behavior throughout the negotiations.

Meanwhile, those "non-economic" demands being made by Local 2 essentially amount to job security in the form of a successorship clause, meaning if Centerplate is passed over in the future by the Giants in favor of another contractor, then the employees of AT&T park would still be guaranteed their jobs. Centerplate argues this is illegal, and has since sued Local 2 over this issue.

Wong says Local 2 employees have been burned by similar situations in the past, which resulted in workers having to take a significant paycut during changes of ownerships at hotels around the Bay Area, and they are looking to avoid those very problems for their concession and retail workers.

Singer says there is, and has been an offer waiting for Local 2 that includes a 1.7 percent annual wage increase, on top of what he calls the "best compensation package in the industry." Also included in the offer is a 9.2 percent contribution increase to the Unite Here benefit plans.

Singer claims Casey is being careless with his workers' wages, and there is money to be had for them right now.

Wong says that percentage increase sounds decent under the veneer of annual percentages, but in reality only increases wages by roughly 25-cents per hour for workers. Local 2's contention with the benefit contributions rests on the increases in cost of living in the Bay Area, which is consistently climbing.

From 2009 until recently when Centerplate made the offer, they hadn't increased benefit plan contribution at all, so Wong says 9.2 percent is not near enough.

Despite all the harsh wording and grand gestures by both sides, the negotiations are set to resume on July 29.

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