06/23/2006 12:00AM

Woodbine clerks still out


Striking mutuel clerks were picketing at all seven Woodbine entrances for the second consecutive day on Friday, with the likelihood that they will be out again for the 147th Queen's Plate program on Sunday.

With a favorable weather forecast, Queen's Plate Day ordinarily could be expected to draw up to 20,000 live customers, but the presence of picketers could be a deterrent.

Woodbine will not use replacement workers and will man as many mutuel windows as possible with management and supervisory staff.

"We're fairly comfortable with where we're at, although we clearly won't be fully staffed," said Jane Holmes, the vice president of corporate affairs for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, which owns the track.

"Making sure that key areas are covered is what we're focusing on right now. We may have some shortages on some of the floors, but that's where we'll be encouraging people to use self-automated tellers.

"We'll also be putting up notices to encourage people to bet early."

Telephone and Internet account wagering will not be affected by the strike.

"If people wanted to set up accounts in advance, we encourage that as well," said Holmes.

The mutuel clerks, who are members of the Canadian Racetrack Workers Union, have been without a contract since Dec. 31 and have been in a strike position since June 10. The dispute hinges on scheduling and seniority issues.

"The ring around Woodbine will be increased as time goes by," said Brian Henderson, president of the clerks' union, which is formally aligned with Teamsters Canada local 419.

"We're out there," said Brian Lawrence, vice president of the Teamsters branch. "We're going to support them to the best of our ability. That's our role."