The Baltimore Orioles joined a growing list of ballclubs that will pay their baseball operations staff through May, and according to a club source, the team will also compensate all full-time and year-round part-time workers during that time as the start of the season continues to be delayed due to coronavirus.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday suspended uniform employee contracts, allowing teams to lay off or cut the salaries of managers in the majors and minor leagues, general managers, front office personnel, coaches, trainers and scouts.
“Our clubs rely heavily on revenue from tickets/concessions, broadcasting/media, licensing and sponsorships to pay salaries,” Manfred wrote in an email, according to The Associated Press. “In the absence of games, these revenue streams will be lost or substantially reduced, and clubs will not have sufficient funds to meet their financial obligations.”
With today’s moves, the Orioles joined a list of at least 18 other ballclubs that will pay their baseball operations staff through the end of May. And the team is one of the few to go a step further and cover other personnel and low-wager workers.
But a representative for 700 concession workers who are contracted through Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ concessionaire, Delaware North, said they are still seeking relief.
Earlier today, 10 members of the Baltimore City Council sent a letter to Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos asking him to support concessions workers who are out of a job with no start to the baseball season in sight.
The letter appears on letterhead from Councilwoman Shannon Sneed (District 13) and is signed by Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton (District 6), Councilman John Bullock (District 9), Councilman Kristerfer Burnett (District 8), Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (District 14), Councilman Zeke Cohen (District 1), Councilman Ryan Dorsey (District 3), Councilman Bill Henry (District 4), Councilwoman Danielle McCray (District 2) and Councilman Leon Pinkett III (District 7).
In it, members cited Angelo’s history representing labor unions as an attorney and refusal to use replacement players during the 1994 baseball strike and called on the owner to step up to the plate for the contractors.
“We are all die-hard Orioles fans and love the team in good times and in bad,” the city council members wrote. “Now, we need the Orioles to support concessions workers at Camden Yards who are incredibly vulnerable to sudden loss of income. If Delaware North will not step up for their employees, Baltimore residents, then we hope that you will.”
Late last month, on what would have been Opening Day at Oriole Park, a few workers and leaders from their union, Unite Here Local #7, held a virtual press conference to ask the Orioles for financial assistance.
The employees, all of whom have worked multiple seasons at the stadium, said they depended on the income they make from ballgames.
George Hancock, 34, said he needs the money he makes from working a concession stand to help support his family, including a nephew who has autism, as his mother approaches retirement.
“This money really lasts me throughout the year,” he said. “Not having this money right away really affects my everyday living.”
While many workers were due to make $12.90 an hour this season she said people who work at bars or food stands in the suite level can make up to $40,000 a year thanks to tips, union president Roxie Herbekian said.
The union noted that both the Orioles and Delaware North stepped up to pay their respective workers in 2015, after the unrest following Freddie Gray’s death forced one game to be played with no fans and three others to be moved from Oriole Park.
In mid-March, as the coronavirus pandemic was ramping up in the U.S., all of professional baseball’s 30 clubs committed $1 million to pay employees during the crisis.
Delaware North, however, furloughed two-thirds of its 3,100 full-time employees in late March and asked the remaining staff to take pay cuts during the pandemic. The Buffalo, New York-based provides food and beverages at more than 200 arenas, stadiums and other hospitality venues in the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom.
In a separate statement, Sneed said compensating the Delaware North workers would contribute to the city’s economic recovery from the ongoing crisis.
“We all have to be in this together and this means checking on Baltimore City residents and even providing extended pay and other resources to the workers of many of our great businesses in Baltimore City,” she said. “Once this is over, Baltimore will be stronger and better than we have ever predicted.”
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