About 1,500 food and other concession workers could go on strike at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles during the upcoming All-Star Game festivities.
The threat of the strike was announced by Unite Here Local 11, which represents the hourly workers at the stadium. The union said 99% of its members voted Sunday to authorize a strike. They are employees of Levy Restaurants, which is a subsidiary of the food services giant Compass Group (CMPGF).
“Stadium workers are proud of the role they play to bring fans the best game experience possible,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of Unite Here Local 11. “They are the backbone of our tourism and sports industry, yet many struggle to stay housed and to make ends meet.”
The union did not spell out any specifics on what they are seeking in negotiations other than to say they want a fair contract.
“I voted yes to strike because I often have to pick up shifts at the Rose Bowl just to try to make ends meet,” Laura Ortiz, a bartender for the last 15 seasons at Dodger Stadium, said in a statement released by the union. “I love working at Dodger Stadium and know that our company can do better.”
The Dodgers are not home between now and the All-Star Game, which is set to be played July 19, the first time it will be held at Dodger Stadium since 1980. Ahead of the game there are several other related events planned for the stadium starting this coming weekend, including a “Futures Game” involving top minor league players along with a home run hitting contest.
The first place Dodgers have been drawing well this year, averaging about 48,000 paying fans per game in a stadium that holds over 53,000. The All-Star Game will likely be a sell-out, as will the previous night’s Home Run Derby.
It is not uncommon for union members to authorize strikes without actually walking out. But workers have been going on strike more frequently in the last year. A strong job market is giving workers considering a strike the ability to find other, temporary jobs to help pay bills during a work stoppage.
According to data compiled by Cornell University, there were 153 strikes involving about 73,500 workers during the first five months of 2022. That’s compares to 78 strikes involving about 22,500 workers during same period of 2021.
Employers dealing with work stoppages are generally having more trouble finding replacements for striking workers than they have in the past due to there being far more job openings than there are job seekers.
Compass and Levy Restaurants did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Dodgers, Major League Baseball nor the MLB Players Association. The players union said it anticipates making a comment later Monday.
The Dodger Stadium workers’ previous contract expired in 2019, said Unite Here spokesperson Maria Hernandez. But with the stadium closed to fans in 2020, and with limited capacity during the course of the 2021 season, this is the first time many of the stadium employees have been back to work.
Hernandez said that the union has been talking with management throughout the last three years, but formal negotiations have not yet begun. Although that would seem to make a strike before the All-Star Game unlikely, Hernandez did caution that, “a strike could start at any time.”