Ballpark strike averted: Giants’ concession workers approve new contract

Oracle Park, the home ballpark of the San Francisco Giants, on July 24, 2021 (Dan McMenamin/BCN)

Concessions workers at Oracle Park — home of the San Francisco Giants — said Thursday they’ve approved a new labor contract, ensuring affordable health care and a $7 hourly raise, among other benefits.

Earlier this month, the workers nearly walked off the job as they called on food service contractor Bon Appetit Management to increase hazard pay by a $3 hourly raise and to lower the threshold for workers’ health care eligibility from 10 monthly events worked to nine.

According to Unite Here Local 2, which represents the workers, Bon Appetit assured workers that Oracle Park would be a safe environment when it reopened at full capacity back in June. However, the workers alleged indoor mask mandates and social distancing protocols weren’t being enforced at the park.

Since the park reopened, more than 20 workers have tested positive for COVID-19, union officials said.

Following negotiations, nearly all union members voted on Thursday to ratify the new contract, averting a strike. Under the new contract, which lasts through March 2024, workers will get immediate wage increases of $3 hourly, increasing to $7 hourly by 2024. Additionally, workers will get hazard pay bonuses of $1.50 hourly for games worked in the 2020 and 2021 baseball seasons. The contract also ensures increased pension benefits for both full-time and seasonal workers.

A lower health care eligibility threshold now also includes an affordable family plan that includes dental and vision insurance at no cost to workers, and with low monthly costs for an unlimited amount of dependents. Furthermore, the new contract commits to enforcing mask requirements and other COVID-19 safety rules.

“The pandemic changed everything, but because we were ready to strike, we got a deal that will keep us safer, help us provide for our families, and give us the health care we need,” said Billie Feliciano, a concessions stand manager who has worked at the park for 45 years.

“This deal will help us be safer on the job. It means that ballpark workers will be able to support our families in the Bay Area, get medical care without worrying about the bill, and retire with dignity. We were ready to strike, and now our lives will change,” said Deborah Torrano, union member and suite attendant.

Bon Appetit had said during negotiations it supported workers’ right to organize and hoped to reach an agreement soon.

Bon Appetit CEO Fedele Bauccio said Thursday he was pleased with the agreement.

“As a company, we have always strived to offer the best possible work environment and benefits for our employees and to work collaboratively with union representatives. I am glad that Oracle Park will continue to be a desirable workplace for our employees,” he said.

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