Both sides cry foul in AT&T Park food fight

Baseball season is in full swing, but AT&T Park’s concession employees might be soon walking off the job after negotiations fell apart last week.

Talks disintegrated Thursday between Local Union 2 Unite Here — which represents the park’s concession employees —and Centerplate, which has a food vending contract with AT&T Park.

Centerplate said the union walked out during negotiations and refuses to provide a counter offer, spokesperson Sam Singer told SFBay:

“Local Union 2 didn’t give us a reason; they marched away from the table. We want them to come to their senses and come back to the table.”

However, Nichit Hegde, a spokesperson for Local Union 2, said a counter-proposal was offered and they did not walk out on negotiations.

She said the union gave Centerplate language regarding job security and is waiting for them to respond to their proposal. Employees want to know that their jobs are secured if and when Centerplate is replaced or if they ever sell the business:

“What happened was that Union Local 2 waited two hours and when they (Centerplate) finally showed up they didn’t have anything of substance to say. They really upset our members when they referred to job security as obnoxious.”

As of May 13, 97 percent of union members voted to authorize a strike if negotiations were not successful. Hegde did not say how soon a strike might take place.

In the event workers strike, Singer said Centerplate has prepared for managers and staff from other Bay Area facilities to fill in and they will do their best to make sure the Giants fan experience is not disrupted.

Centerplate has continued to state that AT&T Park concession employees are the highest paid in the entire industry, earning $15 to $20 an hour with full medical benefits.

Hegde said their members love serving Giants fans, and some travel two hours to work for the healthcare benefits, but that the numbers are being taken out of context.

Since it is only a seasonal position, some employees are making $11,000 a year and living in public housing. Additionally, the cost of living in San Francisco is much higher than other areas in the industry:

“It’s a sad state of affairs if these workers are the highest-paid.”

Concession employees have been without a contract since 2010 and have been working on a year-to-year basis. They have not received a wage increase in the last three years.

The current contract proposed by Centerplate offers a 4.5 percent bonus to employees who worked more than 40 games in 2012, a 25 cent wage increase for this year and the next, a 9.2 percent increased contribution to union benefit plans and employer-paid healthcare for workers and their families.

Both parties have agreed to come to the table again in hopes of reaching agreement.