Updated on 06/04/2012 8:31PM

Union representing NYRA maintenance workers authorizes strike

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ELMONT, N.Y. – The union representing approximately 130 to 150 maintenance crew workers for the New York Racing Association – including the starting gate crew – has authorized a strike that could impact Saturday’s Belmont Stakes in which I’ll Have Another will attempt to win the Triple Crown.

The members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 voted recently to authorize a strike at the three NYRA tracks, although no date was selected for that strike to begin, according to Vincent McElroen, financial secretary for the IBEW.

Asked if that strike could come Saturday, McElroen said, “I couldn’t tell you anything at this point in time. Could you tell me if we’re going to have a fast track or a muddy track? Are we going to have a Triple Crown winner?”

McElroen said his union has been working without a contract since February 2011. The union agreed to a one-year extension, but since this past February negotiations with NYRA have not resulted in a new contract.

McElroen claims NYRA is seeking a 30 percent reduction in wages and benefits from the union. McElroen said NYRA is seeking to cut off health benefits for workers upon their retirement. Currently, retired workers receive health benefits.

The union is planning a demonstration outside the main gate at Belmont Park at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Since February 2011, we’ve been negotiating with them, and they’re not moving at all,” McElroen said. “They’re insistent that it’s their way or the highway. This rally is to bring to the public’s attention to what’s going on.”

In a Monday night release, NYRA claims it has been negotiating in good faith since February 2010 and called Local 3 “self-serving … to use the attention and excitement of a Triple Crown attempt to further its own agenda.”

NYRA claims that its retiree medical benefit liability nearly doubled the past three years from $61 million in 2008 to $121 million in 2011.
“NYRA must address this extraordinary obligation to secure the long term financial health of the company, which directly employs 1,300 employees and supports tens of thousands and jobs throughout the state,” the release said.

NYRA also claims that Local 3 members “receive benefits far richer than NYRA’s non-union employees and most state, municipal, and private-sector employees. Local 3 is unwilling to pay a reasonable share of the cost to provide these benefits and they refuse to work with us to create shifts that reflect the reality of how a race track operates.”

 

Karin B More than 1 year ago
Yes another set back and with all their high salarys they seemed to forget about the ones that put the show on from the cleaners to the gate crew, electrician etc!
Roger Burns More than 1 year ago
Pardon me if this sounds naive, but do you think it may be time for a national organization to oversee the various states and their antics? Why not a commissioner of racing like they for baseball and football? There's no way you'll ever be able to regulate this industry in its current format. And no, I am not a socialist.
john More than 1 year ago
Sometime during the Saratoga meet, take one of the backstretch tours and talk for a few minutes with Gus, the assistant starter who talks about training horses to get to the starting gate. Ask him about his injuries. He has had broken arms and ankles. Dislocated shoulders. Broken bones all over his body. I am by no means a union supporter, by why did NYRA wait so long to settle this. Why are they always doing things like this? This is potentially the biggest day for racing in New York since 1978, and it seems like it's one road block after another.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
I understand business owners not wanting workers to have the power to demand a fair living wage. It's not right, but at least it makes logical sense. But what are we to make of the working-class person who cries out against workers’ rights? This is the problem with too much civilization; the mercilessly sharp scalpel of natural selection has been dulled. Back in the old days (pre-civilization) humanoids like this would not have survived to maturity and, thus, not have had the chance to pollute the gene pool. Picture the lion alarm sounding on the grassy plain. Whilst the unionized Cro-Magnons had quickly banded together and grabbed up every spear, torch and rock within reach to fend off the beast (or hauled tail up the nearest tree). It would have been today’s union basher standing out there on the plain—conspicuously alone—yelling: Hey! Hey you guys…the lions have to eat too…the lions have to ea—*“ And there you have it…Natural Selection at its best.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
I understand business owners not wanting workers to have the power to demand a fair living wage. It's not right, but at least it makes logical sense. But what are we to make of the working-class person who cries out against workers’ rights? This is the problem with too much civilization; the mercilessly sharp scalpel of natural selection has been dulled. Back in the old days (pre-civilization) humanoids like this would not have survived to maturity and, thus, not have had the chance to pollute the gene pool. Picture the lion alarm sounding on the grassy plain. Whilst the unionized Cro-Magnons had quickly banded together and grabbed up every spear, torch and rock within reach to fend off the beast (or hauled ass up the nearest tree). It would have been today’s union basher standing out there on the plain—conspicuously alone—yelling: Hey! Hey you guys…the lions have to eat too…the lions have to ea—*“ And there you have it…Natural Selection at its best.
Joe More than 1 year ago
McElroen said NYRA has also unilaterally changed the workweek for union members at its three tracks from Monday to Friday, to Wednesday through Sunday, GEE -- having to work on days that the track is open --- wow -- what a concept
Nicole Arata More than 1 year ago
Some of these guys work 6 or 7 days a week even though the horses don't race everyday they train everyday
Joan More than 1 year ago
WHERE ARE ALL THE BIG TALKING POLITICANS NOW who always claim to be for the working guy......its mighty quite Mr Governor.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
If they cancel we can call it the Triple Crown Jinx sort of like the CUBS jinx ---at least the horses win twice to get to the "jinx" while the Cubs NEVER WIN !
Jennifer More than 1 year ago
I will bet anyone anything they want, if they strike Belmont Day racing wont miss a beat!! They already have crews lined up just in case! You probably have guys from Maryland and some other venues waiting for the word!
Brendan Oneil More than 1 year ago
Let the NYRA gate crew walk out. They are worst in the country. Horses constantly balk @ being loaded, starters still holdind horses after gate opens, etc, watch racing from other tracks. The job the starters @ Bet Fair HP did with Morning Line was amazing & something that could never be accomplished by NYRA hip-hop gate crew. If you watch NYRA gate crew it is easy to see that they have NO professional horsemanship experience and no rapport with the horse they are handling. Their lack of professionalism becomes much more evident during the Saratoga meet. Let em walk but keep the cleaners.
Jennifer More than 1 year ago
I can tell you one thing for sure Brendan, Your partly right, It Starts with Starter he has to have the backing from NYRA to tell the Jocks to be quiet and sit still in the Gate. Being an assistant starter you have to react on instinct, you can't think about what your going to do. And if makes it worse when the Jocks are mouthy and not sittling still. They NY Jocks are set straight in KY and other tracks. But the Jocks in New York are glorified so no one can tell them anything of the sort so the problem will continue.
Timothy Downs More than 1 year ago
Unions are the scourge of society. Its always more more more. If any of you dopes out there think for one second that these union rats didnt plan this for belmont Saturday you are badly mistaken. Unions are a thing of the past and the sooner they are gone the better for eveybody. By the way I am a commisioned sales person that gets paid on performance, unlike union vermon.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
When you provide YOUR services, do you wait a year and a half to get paid? So next time you need a bridge built or your city lit up or hopefully the NYRA offices torn down call a salesperson...
Chris More than 1 year ago
timothy dunce
Joan More than 1 year ago
Dear Timothy, You Are a Pinhead. Its NOT more more more...its the corporate side saying take take take. Most Corporations have Zero consideration for the working guy. The majority of these people have dedicated years to help these guys grow.....whats their reward ?....getting screwed ! and You support a bunch of Scumbags acting in this manner ? Tim step to the front of the line you're a commissioned salesmen no more...You have what it takes to be at the top ...Namely being MORALLY BANKRUPT
thomas j More than 1 year ago
Unions are a good thing because they are the backbone of the working class. They are not asking for more more more (like the commisioned sales person does when they are trying to rip somebody off). Unions want the corporate taking and taking and taking to stop. That's all. When your commission starts to be slashed by the people at the top of your company, you can keep working for dirt paychecks. If you are still grateful and happy with that, so be it. You'll never work for me because you have no self-respect.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
You might want to try finding yourself a union job...you sound bitter...not to mention, ENVIOUS.
Joe More than 1 year ago
Another example of the bumbling stupidity of NYRA ---
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Joe, Kevin, Thomas J, Joan, Chris and all other Union Workers, Thanks America! I love ya!!! To Timothy and the other name-callers, take your moans and groans, beetches, gripes and complaints to IBEW Local 3 on Harry Van Arsdale Ave. in Flushing. I'm sure you'll find someone who has what you need. Timothy, make up a sandwich board like you use in your day job and wear it to the Union rally at Belmont Park. If you Hate Unions, be proud and say it Loud... in person.