Derby Week Disruptions? Labor Unions To Protest Jockey Valets’ Contract Impasse With Churchill Downs Inc.

A group of workers and members of SEIU Local 541, essential to successful horse races, are entering Kentucky Derby Week in Louisville, Ky., without a contract. On Saturday, labor and community allies will support these workers at a protest at Churchill Downs Racetrack to alert the public to potential disruptions during Derby Week and call on Churchill Downs Incorporated to do right by their employees in Kentucky and agree to fair contracts.

Churchill Downs Incorporated, which brought in over $1 billion in revenue last year, is refusing to agree to a fair contract that gives its valets at Churchill Downs Racetrack and Turfway Park a fair wage and basic workplace protections to ensure adequate staffing levels at the racetracks. The valets are highly skilled workers whose work is critical to the success and safety of the Kentucky Derby operation. They must saddle horses and make sure each horse is compliant with stringent racing regulations.

The valets have been working under expired contracts since last year and they say the company’s refusal to agree to common-sense contracts could result in major disruptions during Kentucky Derby Week.

At 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, prior to opening night’s 6 p.m. first post, the Louisville labor community – including members of Teamsters Local 89 and the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council – will be meeting outside of the track’s main gate at 700 Central Avenue.

According to a notice distributed by the labor union, Churchill Downs Incorporated posted $1.054 billion in net revenue for 2020, and CEO Bill Carstanjen made $10.5 million. Meanwhile, its valets are currently paid about $16 an hour and are asking for modest increases to their pay and contributions to their retirement accounts to provide financial stability for themselves and their families. They are also asking for guaranteed valet staffing levels at live races to ensure consistency and safety. In order to make a living at racetracks that only provide work for 40-80 days per year, valets must travel throughout the country to different race tracks and are responsible for their own travel and housing costs.

The post Derby Week Disruptions? Labor Unions To Protest Jockey Valets’ Contract Impasse With Churchill Downs Inc. appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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