The recent end to the Major League Baseball’s lockout provided a sigh of relief to fans and others, with Opening Day just weeks away.
But the end of the dispute between billionaire club owners and millionaire ballplayers probably offered more respite to thousands of vendors, ushers, ticket takers and parking attendants who depend upon the game to help make ends meet.
“What does [the lockout] mean for employees? First, lack of money in their pockets,” said Lenear Bassett-King, who worked for nearly a dozen years for the Washington Nationals in the team’s guest services department.
“Concessions, parking and security are different companies … ushers are seasonal and [were] in a holding pattern,” Bassett-King noted.
She said the problem was exacerbated by pandemic-related safety concerns that could result in shortfalls in service positions.
Former Nationals and current New York Mets hurler Matt Scherzer joined fellow union executive board member Andrew Miller in helping to establish a $1 million fund for stadium workers if the work stoppage carried through the season.
“There are a lot of people who make our game great. Many aren’t seen or heard but they are vital to the entertainment experience of our games,” Scherzer and Miller wrote in a joint statement.
The duo noted those workers would be among those heavily affected had the lockout continued.
“We want to let them know that they have our support,” Miller and Scherzer added.
In a letter to news organizations, Oren Spiegler of Peters Township, Pennsylvania, railed against Major League Baseball and what he called the sport’s greed.
“At a time in which Americans have been hurting financially and emotionally while the coronavirus pandemic has gotten the best of us, I wonder how sympathetic they are to baseball players who are unwilling to agree to a contract in large part because their salaries have slid to an average of a ‘measly’ $4 million per year, placing them in a lofty position of wealth,” Spiegler wrote.
“The contract impasse can be summarized by calling it naked greed and selfishness. There is no concern for the businesses that are able to profitably operate based upon revenue from pro baseball or the little guy and gal who work at stadiums as vendors, hosts, parking lot attendants and concession stand workers,” he wrote.
On March 9, after 99 days, baseball’s owners and players reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The deal sets a minimum salary of $700,000 for rookies and a $50 million bonus pool for players currently ineligible for arbitration. It also expanded the number of teams to 12 who qualify for postseason play – a move that further boosts compensation for teams and players.
“Thank God, because we are the little guy,” said Marvin Garrett, who has worked concessions at Orioles Park at Camden Yards and FedEx Field.
“This is a hustle, something to help feed our families,” Garrett said. “They [the players and owners] are pulling in tens of millions and even billions of dollars regularly. Yet, we dream of a $15 an hour minimum wage.”