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Giants workers ramp up strike preparations amid safety uncertainty, health care impasse

Giants workers ramp up strike preparations amid safety uncertainty, health care impasse

After three days of negotiations that commenced only under the threat of a strike, San Francisco Giants concessions workers and union leaders said they still feel as though their lengthy list of concerns haven’t been properly addressed.

From Wednesday until Friday, the Local 2 union (which represents 930 Oracle Park concessions workers) negotiated with Bon Appetit, the food services management company subcontracted by the Giants. The union went into negotiations looking to discuss a long-awaited hourly pay increase and a reduction in the number of events required for workers to qualify for health care. Union representatives also wanted to speak to the Giants organization, which has so far passed the buck onto its subcontractor, about COVID-19 safety precautions at the ballpark.

Concessions workers were able to compel Bon Appetit to the negotiating table after last weekend’s strike vote, during which 96.7% of workers who turned out voted in favor of allowing a strike, should union leaders decide to call one.

In the almost week since, incremental progress seems to have been made with the Giants, who previously refused to speak to Local 2 reps (and ignored SFGATE requests for comment), but there’s been a mixed bag of results with Bon Appetit on the most substantive issues.

Local 2 President Anand Singh told SFGATE that Local 2 union leaders and Giants higher-ups met Thursday specifically to discuss COVID-19 safety issues. “They can have their own conversations with Bon Appetit [over wages and healthcare], that’s fine with us,” Singh said. “As long as we get what we need.”

The Giants have now agreed to enforce a mask requirement among fans while they’re visiting the concessions stands, and will also add more signage around Oracle Park as a reminder. Singh said they didn’t get anywhere during their discussions on a potential proof of vaccination requirement for fans.

Singh took a different tone about where things stood with Bon Appetit, reiterating workers’ calls for a $3 per hour hazard pay increase, as well as their request to lower the threshold for health insurance eligibility from 10 events per month to nine. He told SFGATE that Bon Appetit “did come quite a ways” on wages and pension concerns, but “we’re still nowhere on the issue of health care.”

On that front, Singh said Bon Appetit is insisting on a premium hike for workers, which is a longer-standing tension between the two sides. And Singh noted that Bon Appetit has not yet indicated a willingness to lower the health care threshold either. “We’re at a standstill there,” he said to SFGATE.

He added that workers will be “signing up for picket duties this week,” which means they’re committing to walk the picket line during designated shifts if a strike is officially called. Whether that happens is still up in the air. Singh wrote in Local 2’s press release that Giants workers will “continue to prepare to strike if Bon Appetit doesn’t back off this unacceptable and frankly offensive proposal.”

In the interim, Local 2 wants to hear from concessions workers during the Giants’ next homestand, which begins Monday. Whether the Giants uphold their end of the bargain on safety precautions will help Local 2 determine its next steps. Then, in theory, it’s back to the negotiations table with Bon Appetit during the week of Sept. 20.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.