Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerConcession workers at AT&T Park say they’re seeking their first raises in years and health care protections.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerConcession workers at AT&T Park say they’re seeking their first raises in years and health care protections.

AT&T Park workers approve strike as negotiations continue

When contract talks continue this week between AT&T Park workers and the company that manages the concessions at the ballpark, it will be under the cloud of a threatened strike approved over the weekend.

The concession workers, who are represented by the union Unite Here Local 2, have said they had not had raises in several years. They said  the management company Centerplate is seeking to cap health care benefits and is offering a 25-cent-an-hour raise this year and another 25 cents an hour next year.

“Basically what we’re looking for is just some job security and the medical benefits,” said Anthony Wendlberger, 38, a Rio Linda resident who has worked in the production kitchens for the park’s bistros since 2010. “Those, for me, are the two most important things.”

A spokeswoman for Centerplate said the company considers the vote an “unfortunate decision encouraged by the labor union.”

“We believe given the state of negotiations this is something that did not need to happen since Centerplate and Unite Here are in active negotiations,” said spokeswoman Gina Antonini.

“They value their employees and want to find a reasonable agreement,” Antonini added.

AT&T Park workers bring in some of the highest wages in the industry, making between $15 and $20 an hour, and have all health care costs covered, Antonini said Friday.

On Saturday, the concession workers voted to authorize a strike in a vote of 500 to 16, according to a union representative.
Workers will not go out on strike immediately, but will wait to see how concessions management firm Centerplate responds at bargaining sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, according to Nischit Hegde, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 2.

The company and the union have met five times so far this year,  and Antonini noted that the union did not approach Centerplate to negotiate a new contract until around two years after the old contract had expired.

The Giants are not involved in negotiations but are  being kept apprised of the situation, Antonini said.

If labor action were to occur, Centerplate would use other workers and management to ensure that the fan experience would not be interrupted, Antonini said.

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