Pari-Mutuel Clerks Say They Will Honor Derby Day Picket Line At Churchill Downs If Valets Go On Strike

The pari-mutuel clerks employed by Churchill Downs Incorporated in Louisville, Ky., announced they will honor the Churchill Downs valets’ picket line, if they decide to strike on the day of the Kentucky Derby. The absence of 200 pari-mutuel clerks at the Derby would shut down hundreds of betting stations and disrupt the money-making engine of Churchill Downs Incorporated.

SEIU Local 541’s Executive Board President Don Vest said: “The pari-mutuel clerks stand in full solidarity with valets who have been patiently waiting for a fair contract since last fall. They have informed the valets that they will honor the picket line if they choose to go on strike tomorrow.”

Valets employed by Churchill Downs Incorporated at Churchill Downs Racetrack have not had a contract since October.  The parimutuel clerks’ support comes as Churchill Downs refused to accept the offer by valets, represented by SEIU Local 541, to meet with a mediator this morning to resolve the open contracts at Churchill Downs Racetrack and Turfway Park. Turfway valets have not had a contract since April 2020.

Ronnie Shelton, an SEIU Local 541 member and veteran of the Kentucky Derby,  criticized Churchill Downs’ attempts to prolong a contract dispute that they delayed for months and ultimately risk disruptions to the Derby: “Churchill Downs’ offer to meet next week without agreeing to use a mediator, and with no assurances that they will actually move on any of their proposals, is unacceptable and insulting, especially when they canceled our last meeting abruptly and refused to acknowledge our offer to finalize a deal. The biggest day of the year is tomorrow, and Churchill Downs is suggesting we work under a substandard contract so they can drive up their profits.

Shelton continued, “Our patience for excuses is wearing thin because we know Churchill Downs could pay us fairly in a second without feeling even the slightest pinch. There is no need to delay or threaten the Derby, and it’s on Churchill Downs to stop the insulting delay tactics and agree to a fair contract.”

On Wednesday, the Greater Louisville Labor Council also pledged their support for Derby valets. President Todd Dunn said: “From the valets to the pari-mutuel clerks to the folks who put together the garland of roses, the Kentucky Derby is Union made. All of these workers are vital. With Derby just hours away, the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council is prepared to stand with these workers in any action. An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Churchill Downs Incorporated posted $1.054 billion in net revenue for 2020, and its CEO Bill Carstanjen made $10.5 million, yet the company is refusing to pay its valets at Churchill Downs Racetrack (CDRT) and Turfway Park a fair wage and provide basic workplace protections to ensure adequate staffing levels at the racetracks. The ratio of the CEO’s compensation to the median salary of the other full-time employees in 2020 ($26,000) is 404:1. In the first few seconds of opening betting, the company easily makes the $27,000 it would cost to fully cover modest raises for its entire valet workforce.

The post Pari-Mutuel Clerks Say They Will Honor Derby Day Picket Line At Churchill Downs If Valets Go On Strike appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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