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Hundreds of food workers strike at AT&T Park in San Francisco

Centerplate concession workers picket outside of AT&T Park before a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies in San Francisco, Saturday, May 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
May 25, 2013 6:53:16 PM PDT
Several hundred union concession workers formed a picket line outside the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park for a one-day strike but a Giants spokeswoman said food and beverage sales resumed during Saturday's game.

The strike by 750 members of UNITE HERE Local 2 against the Giants' food and beverage subcontractor Centerplate started a few hours before Saturday afternoon's game between the Giants and the Colorado Rockies, union spokeswoman Nischit Hegde said.

UNITE HERE launched the one-day strike as their union bargains with Centerplate for better wages, benefits and job security, Hegde said.

The picket line included several hundred union members outside AT&T at 3rd and King Streets late Saturday morning before the game started at about 1 p.m., Hegde said.

The strikers urged fans not to patronize Centerplate's food and drink concessions, but did not prevent them from entering the park, Hegde said.

One striker, Julie Nordman, of Daly City, who works a food stand outside centerfield, said that she only makes about $11,000 a year working concessions at AT&T during 7-hour shifts in each Giants home game.

Most workers average only about $15 an hour and Centerplate has refused to provide them with benches to sit on, so they have to remain standing the entire game, Nordman said.

"It's a disgrace, it's a slap in face," Nordman said.

"The Giants have won the World Series twice in the last three years and we haven't had a raise in three years."

Local 2's fixed concession workers, who sell beer, hot dogs, peanuts, garlic fries and other foods, want "job security and respect," a more than 25-cent-per-hour increase and benches to sit on during work breaks, Hegde said.

But Centerplate sent other employees and replacement workers to the park to work on food and drink sales for the game, Giants spokeswoman Shana Daum.

"There has been no major disruption to the food service," Daum said. "They've had a little bit longer lines but nothing usual, kind of close to an opening day."

"Our customers have been very patient," Daum said. "They are getting served."

The labor dispute is between Centerplate and the union and not the Giants organization, said Daum, who apologized to fans for any inconvenience.

"We continue to urge both parties to get back to the bargaining table and to have productive discussions so the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible," Daum said.

"Mayor Ed Lee has graciously offered to bring the parties together to work toward reaching a resolution for the sake of the employees and the fans," Daum said.

"We remain hopeful that Local 2 and Centerplate can find common ground and move forward," she said.

Centerplate spokesman Sam Singer said in a prepared statement that the company, based in Stamford, Conn., believes "this labor action by Local 2 is unnecessary, unfortunate and illegal."

"The timing of the strike, coming as it does on Memorial Day Weekend, continues a disturbing pattern of disrespect for the military, veterans and servicemen and servicewomen by the UNITE HERE leaders," Singer said.

Centerplate has "the highest paid staff in the concession business, earning between $15 and $20 an hour, receiving full healthcare and other benefits for their part time work," Singer said.

Hegde said that Centerplate has a large mark up, perhaps up to 55 percent, on its concessions that includes $10.25 for a cup of beer, Hegde said

"Not all that money is going to the workers," Hegde said.

Nordman, who called beer sales the "liquid gold" of the park, said that $5.50 of each beer goes to the Giants, the rest to Centerplate.

A second union, Teamster Local 7, that represents outdoor concessions people who walk in the stands, are not on strike but endorsed UNITE HERE's picket line, according to Hegde.


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