Workers will not go out on strike immediately, but will wait to see how concessions management firm Centerplate responds at bargaining sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week, according to Nischit Hegde, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 2.
"People are very serious about what they need and they want to be taken seriously, and I think a 97 percent authorization vote displays how serious they are," Hegde said.
Workers Saturday said they had not had raises in several years. They said that Centerplate is seeking to cap healthcare benefits and is offering a 25 cent an hour raise this year and another 25 cents an hour next year.
"Basically what we're looking for is just some job security and the medical benefits," said Anthony Wendlberger, 38, a Rio Linda resident who has worked in the production kitchens for the park's bistros since 2010. "Those, for me are the two most important things."
A spokeswoman for Centerplate said the company considers the vote an "unfortunate decision encouraged by the labor union." "We believe given the state of negotiations this is something that did not need to happen since Centerplate and Unite Here are in active negotiations," said spokeswoman Gina Antonini.
"They value their employees and want to find a reasonable agreement," Antonini added.
AT&T Park workers bring in some of the highest wages in the industry, making between $15 and $20 an hour, and have all healthcare costs covered, Antonini said on Friday.
The company and the union have met five times so far this year, and Antonini noted that the union did not approach Centerplate to negotiate a new contract until around two years after the old contract had expired.
The San Francisco Giants are not involved in negotiations but are being kept apprised of the situation, Antonini said.
If labor action were to occur, Centerplate would act to ensure that the fan experience was not interrupted, Antonini said.