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Horse Racing

Baltimore union representing hospitality workers at Pimlico, Laurel Park demands ‘good jobs’ from The Stronach Group

Armed with a megaphone, placards and the platform that the upcoming Preakness Stakes provides, a union that represents hospitality workers at the Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks chanted outside Pimlico on Tuesday, demanding that The Stronach Group invest in “good jobs.”

Tracy Lingo, staff director of UNITE HERE Local 7, said union employment at Pimlico and Laurel has plunged from 45 mostly full-time workers at the two tracks in 2015 to only nine now. The union called for more jobs and better-paying ones, given that the state has authorized up to $375 million in bonds for improvements to the two tracks owned by The Stronach Group.

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“Especially because you’re getting this large amount of state investment, there’s a real obligation to this community that you create good jobs,” Lingo said.

Renovations to the racetracks have yet to begin but are expected to in the coming years. The plan to improve Pimlico includes freeing up parcels of land for development in the Park Heights community.

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Overall annual attendance at Pimlico and Laurel Park has declined over the past several years, during the pandemic in particular, which likely accounts for some of the job decline.

The union is currently bargaining with The Stronach Group and seeking higher wages. Lingo said that at present, some non-tipped workers are making the state minimum wage, which is $12.50 an hour for companies with at least 15 employees. The union is seeking at least $15 an hour but said that Stronach’s most recent offer was $13.03.

Next year, the state minimum wage for companies with at least 15 employees rises to $13.25, then $14 in 2024 and, finally, $15 in 2025.

The Maryland Jockey Club, whose parent company is The Stronach Group, said in a statement that it is “committed to its valued employees and the communities in which it operates.”

“[Maryland Jockey Club] has been consistently bargaining in good faith with Unite Here Local 7 since December, honoring the contract, which expired in 2018, throughout negotiations,” the statement continued. “[Maryland Jockey Club] made an initial economic offer to Unite Here on May 2 and is awaiting a response. As we continue negotiations with Unite Here Local 7, we look forward to an equally successful conclusion.”


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