Despite the Baltimore Orioles promising $1 million to workers who haven’t been able to collect a paycheck during the COVID-19 shutdown, concessions workers are not being paid.
At Camden Yards, not every worker is normally paid by the Baltimore Orioles. Those who work in food service are outsourced to a company called Delaware North. And, those employees are not included in the $1 million promised by the O’s and the MLB.
The $1 million is reserved for employees who are directly employed by the O’s, like ushers and security teams.
These workers took to the streets outside of Oriole Park at Camden Yards to protest not being paid by Delaware North. According to an article in the The Baltimore Sun, nearly 700 food-service workers work for the third-party employer.
The Orioles promised to pay their employees through May. Unfortunately, the concessions workers who work for Delaware North are not included in that promise. In April, the union that supports these employees complained about not hearing anything from the team about pay during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Often, concessions workers and other low-wage ball park employees move to different leagues during the off-season. So, one worker might work at Camden Yards in the summer, then move to M & T Bank Stadium in the fall. With concerns about the NFL season and COVID-19, these third-party employees could have more financial struggles.
In April, USA Today reached out to all MLB, NBA, and NHL teams to see what they were doing to help their unemployed concessions workers. According to the article, the answers were mixed. One concessions worker who mans a concession booth at Capital One Arena was not being paid at all. Prior to the shutdown, she was working at both Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals games.
Of the 91 teams writers from USA Today contacted, only 28 of them were providing financial assistance to employees of organizations like Delaware North and Aramark.
There is no easy solution for teams who rely on third-party employers for concessions workers. It is the norm for teams not to directly employ the concessions workers, but those employees help make the events function smoothly.
The Baltimore Sun article quoted the President of the Unite Here Local 7 union that supports the Orioles concessions workers. Roxie Herbekian said:
“This is a time when people really need these big institutions in Baltimore, and some of them have already stepped up — [Johns] Hopkins has stepped up to help workers, the casino has stepped up to help workers, a lot of the hotel companies have stepped up. It’s just surprising to us that the Orioles have not.”
I think the better word is disappointing, instead of surprising. The Orioles have the lowest payroll in the MLB, and while the ownership has shown to be generous in the past, the pocketbook hasn’t been open wide lately.
The community will remember how the Orioles treated their vital, low-wage workers, even if they aren’t directly paid by the team. If they work inside of OPACY, most fans will consider them Orioles employees. In 2019, the stands were already rather empty, the team doesn’t need to give fans another reason to avoid coming to the park if it every reopens.