Working for Peanuts at Nation’s Ballparks, Concessions Sellers Speak Up

The average price of a ticket to watch the San Francisco Giants went up 20 percent in the last three seasons. Team revenues spiked 14 percent. Even beer prices increased 13 percent. And concessions stand workers’ wages? Surely they went up as owners raked in more profits, right?

Strike 1.

The wages of the folks selling the peanuts and Cracker Jacks at AT&T Park haven’t been raised a penny since the start of the 2010 baseball season. Their employer, food and beverage subcontractor Centerplate, refuses to negotiate a fair contract that includes adequate health care benefits. So last week, the workers of UNITE HERE Local 2 called a strike, which kicked off at the May 25 Giants-Rockies game and will occur four more days during the summer if necessary.

It’s not the only action undertaken at parks as baseball season gets into full swing. Workers from California to Washington, DC, are calling attention to income inequality between company owners and the employees who keep them in business. They’re doing it by bringing the fans on board as allies.

At Monday’s Washington Nationals’ interleague game against the Baltimore Orioles, concessions stand workers of UNITE HERE Local 23 greeted fans coming into the park with leaflets and buttons calling for a fair contract, which they’ve never had. They pointed out the benefit to the economy of a union contract that pays fair wages and guarantees health care benefits for workers.

In San Francisco, fans showed their solidarity with workers the day of the strike by bringing food to the ballpark and avoiding the counters.

Julie Nordman, a San Francisco concession worker for 20 years, had a simple question for management:

My stand alone brings in over $20,000 a game. Why can’t we share in the success?

With more strike days looming, it’s a question that will require owners to step up to the plate and answer.

Show your support for striking concession workers by signing Local 2’s petition today.



This article originally appeared on the AFSCME blog.