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SF Giants force strike vote by refusing to help concession workers

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: A view of concession stand at Pride Movie Night with screening of "In The Heights" at Oracle Park on June 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: A view of concession stand at Pride Movie Night with screening of "In The Heights" at Oracle Park on June 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)
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SF Giants
Aug 1, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Concession stands are closed in an empty concourse as seen before the game between the SF Giants and the Texas Rangers at Oracle Park. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Unite Here Local 2, the union representing nearly 1,000 concessions workers at Oracle Park, the home stadium of the SF Giants, voted to authorize a strike on Saturday after an overwhelming majority of members (96.7% of voters) voted in favor of strike authorization. While the group is not immediately going on strike, the vote enables them to begin a strike at any point going forward.

The union is technically negotiating with Bon Appetit, a subcontractor the Giants partner with to provide concessions for events at Oracle Park. However, Bon Appetit also has no leverage over the big-league franchise, estimated to be worth more than $3 billion according to Forbes. While Bon Appetit could ultimately agree to some worker demands without the organization’s involvement, the franchise almost certainly has the sway to force Bon Appetit to concede to their employees.

The SF Giants have failed their concession employees.

Bon Appetit also contracts concessions for the Chase Center, the home arena of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors provided concession workers $1,000 and help with health insurance costs when fans were not allowed into arenas last season. The Giants, in contrast, sent workers $500 and offered no assistance with insurance despite canceling roughly twice as many events as the Warriors. Moreover, before the pandemic, the Giants concession workers have not received a raise in three years.

Health insurance coverage remains a key sticking point for workers. Both the Giants and Bon Appetit require employees to work at least 10 events per month at Oracle Park to qualify for insurance. However, the Giants have not consistently held 10 monthly events since the beginning of the pandemic and only have nine events scheduled in some upcoming months. In Alex Shultz’s excellent reporting for SFGate, he chronicled one employee who was forced to take a month off after a fall on the job and lost her health insurance because of it.

While inadequate compensation throughout the pandemic has fueled the Unite Here Local 2 union to hold a strike vote, the SF Giants decision to reopen Oracle Park to full capacity without vaccine requirements remains a contributing factor. Mask mandates have been consistently unenforced as the ballpark returned to full capacity, and the Giants have taken inadequate steps to protect their (or Bon Appetit’s) employees. More than 20 concession workers have already tested positive for COVID-19 since the ballpark reopened earlier this year, per KRON2.

NBC Bay Area, and several outlets, have reported the union is requesting just $3 an hour in retroactive hazard pay for workers and for the event minimum to qualify for health insurance to be lowered to nine. With that said, Anand Singh, the union president, told Shultz that there are no “bottom-line demands” in place. Singh pointed to added safety precautions, lowering the event minimum to qualify for insurance, and permanent wage increases as three focuses of the union. All things the Giants could change instantaneously.

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As the SF Giants enjoy their most successful season in years, the franchise is refusing to take even minor action to help hundreds of employees who play a pivotal role in the experience at Oracle Park. As the Giants approach postseason play, their continued inaction may force Oracle Park concession workers to strike before the end of the 2021 season.

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