Concessionaire Sues Ballpark Vendors’ Union

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A giant ballpark concessionaire sued a Unite Here union local representing hot dog vendors and bartenders, claiming Local 2 is planning an illegal secondary strike to “exploit” the San Francisco Giants’ World Series wins.
     Volume Services dba Centerplate sued Unite Here, Local 2 in Federal Court.
     Centerplate claims the union is trying to embroil the Giants in a labor dispute with which the team is not involved. It claims the union is coercing, striking or threatening to strike unless Centerplate and/or the Giants enter into an unlawful labor agreement.
     Centerplate sued under the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 and the National Labor Relations Act.
     Centerplate operates concessions at AT&T Park – the Giants’ home field – and at more than 300 sports, convention and entertainment venues in North America and the United Kingdom.
     It claims that Local 2 threatened to strike unless the Giants signed a “successor addendum,” which would bind the baseball team, and any future concessionaire at AT&T Park, to the same terms Local 2 negotiates with Centerplate.
     “Local 2 is threatening and preparing to strike Volume Services Inc. dba Centerplate in order to attempt to expand Local 2’s bargaining relationship with Centerplate to include the San Francisco Giants. Seeking to exploit the Giants’ success as repeat World Series Champions and the financial success that flows from having a winning team, Local 2 seeks to convert its bargaining dispute with Centerplate to one with the Giants,” the complaint states.
     “In addition to tailoring its public appeals to make it appear that its dispute is with the Giants, Local 2 has made a key goal of its dispute an unlawful attempt to coerce the Giants into signing a ‘successorship addendum’ to Local 2’s collective bargaining agreement with Centerplate (the ‘Centerplate CBA’). This successorship addendum would bind the Giants to the terms of the Centerplate CBA and/or require that the Giants only do business with other entities that agree to bind themselves to the Centerplate CBA. Further, Local 2 has made it clear to Centerplate that it will only execute a new Centerplate CBA with Centerplate if the Giants execute the successorship addendum, thereby enmeshing Centerplate in Local 2’s dispute with the Giants over the successorship addendum.”
     The union’s “overreaching” does not end with the Giants, Centerplate claims.
     “As part of its threatened strike and picketing, Local 2 seeks to end Centerplate’s relationship with various not-for-profit organizations that benefit from the concession services Centerplate provides at AT&T Park,” including the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, U.S. Navy and Canning for Hunger, the complaint states.
     The partnerships “yield hundreds of thousands of dollar a year to worthy causes,” Centerplate says.
     Local 2 President Mike Casey “scoffed” at the charities, Centerplate claims, “at one point stating that the U.S. Navy did not need to work a stand at the ballpark to pay for prosthetic limbs for wounded veterans.”
     Centerplate claims Casey also “quipped” about the Marines, saying: “Why [don’t] you have them man a boat and they can sell hot dogs out on the water?”
     Centerplate claims: “Local 2’s actions are part of a scheme by a union that represents some of the most highly compensated employees in the baseball concessions industry. It may well be that because of Centerplate’s historical generosity towards its employees that Local 2 believes that it can bully Centerplate (and the Giants) into acceding to its unlawful demands. Moreover, because it cannot hope to gain public approval for its targeting of NPO’s [not-for-profit organizations], Local 2 likely believes that the Giants, one of the most successful sports franchises in the country, are a more compelling target for its claims of unfair treatment. Finally, because the Giants are a beloved San Francisco institution, Local 2 likely believes that enmeshing the reigning World Series champs in a labor dispute will make more compelling headlines than on between a concessionaire and a union that represents hot dog vendors and bartenders.”
     Centerplate spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement that Local 2 “has overstepped the bounds of the law and of humanity.”
     “They are illegally attempting to force the Giants into a labor dispute between Centerplate and the union and wrongly trying to harm the many nonprofits that rely upon income from their charitable work at AT&T Park,” Singer said in the statement.
     Last week, 97 percent of more than 500 AT&T Park concession workers voted to strike. They seek job security, wage increases and improved health care, according to a May 13 statement on the union’s website, checked this morning.
     The vote authorized union leadership to call for any action, including up to a five-day strike and a boycott of food and beverages at the park.
     Centerplate is the largest food service provider for the NFL, the largest caterer to stadia in the U.K., and partners with six of the top 10 most active convention centers, according to its website. It has provided services for 12 Super Bowls, 20 World Series, 15 presidential inaugural balls and more than 100 college bowl games.
     Centerplate seeks declaratory judgment and punitive damages.
     It is represented by Scott Witlin with Barnes & Thornburg, of Los Angeles.

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