Stadium workers who have gotten no financial aid from Dodgers or Angels cry for help




 

His rent is due Wednesday. His first child is due April 17.

Juan Luna spends his summers at the ballpark - working in a kitchen at Dodger Stadium when the Dodgers are home, as a concession cashier at Angel Stadium when the Angels are home.

Both ballparks are closed now, the baseball season delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus crisis. On March 17, the Dodgers and Angels - and every other major league team - each committed $1 million to provide financial assistance to game-day workers.

Luna believed that meant he would get financial assistance. He has not seen a dime. The fact that he works for third-party concession companies and not the Dodgers or Angels complicates his situation.

"It's getting pretty stressful," he said. "I rely on this income."

In the absence of games - and the loss of revenue from tickets, concessions, merchandise, parking and sponsorships - major league owners have reached agreements on how to compensate players in the majors and minors. Commissioner Rob Manfred successfully leaned on owners to retain all full-time employees at least through April 30, a league official said.

The number of full-time employees is dwarfed by the number of game-day employees, who scan tickets, sell hot dogs and T-shirts, and serve as janitors, ushers, parking attendants and ballpark security agents.

Unite Here is the union that represents the concession workers at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium. Generally, game-day employees can be represented by various unions. They can be hired by a third party, or hired by the team itself.

The $1-million assistance pledge was designed to help employees hired by the team, a league official said, although teams are not restricted in how they use the money or how much financial support they can offer. For example, the Atlanta Braves said they would extend financial assistance to game-day employees at their ballpark and each of the four minor league teams the Braves own.

The Boston Red Sox said last week they would expand their pool of assistance funds to $1.5 million and include concession workers in it, even though they are employed by Aramark. The San Diego Padres said Tuesday they would contribute $100,000 of their $1-million pledge to Delaware North, the company that employs the Petco Park concession workers, for distribution among those workers.

Dodgers concession workers are employed by Levy Restaurants. Angels concession workers are employed by Legends. Both companies have advised those workers to file for unemployment, according to interviews with Unite Here members. The stimulus bill signed into law last week adds up to $600 per week to unemployment compensation for up to four months.

The union has launched a petition calling on the Dodgers and Angels to follow the lead of Staples Center and its tenants - the Lakers, Clippers and Kings - in agreeing to pay workers for all canceled games this season. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had about 2,000 signatures.

The Lakers had 10 scheduled home games left in the regular season, the Clippers nine and the Kings seven. The Dodgers and Angels are each scheduled for 81 regular-season home games. For now, MLB lists March and April games as "postponed" rather than canceled.

Including exhibitions, the Dodgers would have played eight home games in March, the Angels one.

The Angels would not have played a regular-season home game until Friday, but the team said it is actively considering how to assist game-day workers, including consultation with Legends on how to help concession workers.

"Our ballpark employees are some of the most valuable members of our Angels family," team spokeswoman Marie Garvey said. "We are diligently working through various plans with the intention of helping them through these difficult and unprecedented times."

Dodgers spokesmen Steve Brener and Joe Jareck and Levy spokesman Kevin Memolo did not comment.

In a March 24 letter sent to employees and obtained by The Times, Dodgers vice president of human resources Marilyn Davis said that "we expect that a majority, if not all, hourly positions of organization employees at Dodger Stadium will experience either a further reduction of hours … or will experience a temporary suspension of work."

The letter provided information about unemployment insurance but made no mention of the pledged $1 million in worker assistance.

Deedee Reed has worked at Dodger Stadium for three decades, and she now is a manager at one of the stadium bars. She said the four people that live in her Los Angeles home, including her brother and two children, all work at Dodger Stadium.

"That's our only source of income," she said.

She said the health insurance in her union job is just as vital as the salary.

"We're the ones that fans interact with. We're a reason they come back to the games, and you're acting like we don't exist right now," she said. "We're the ones stretched out now. We live paycheck to paycheck.

"We're asking the Dodgers and Angels step up to the plate and do what they know is right."


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