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Contracted concession workers protest outside Camden Yards seeking pay from Orioles for missed games

Oriole Park at Camden Yards concession workers laid off due to the pandemic protested outside the stadium Thursday in their continued efforts to secure

With some on foot wearing masks and carrying signs and 50 cars supporting their cause in the form of a rolling rally, Oriole Park at Camden Yards concession workers laid off by a third-party contractor protested outside the stadium Thursday in their continued efforts to secure financial relief from the Orioles because of missed games caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unite Here 7, the union that represents the nearly 700 stadium workers from contractor Delaware North, held a virtual press conference March 26 — which would have been Opening Day — and amplified a letter from a majority of the Baltimore City Council last month asking for the workers to be paid.

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On Thursday, they looped around the access road in front of the B&O Warehouse that contains the closed Orioles offices in hopes of a response.

“This is a time when people really need these big institutions in Baltimore, and some of them have already stepped up — [Johns] Hopkins has stepped up to help workers, the casino has stepped up to help workers, a lot of the hotel companies have stepped up,” said Roxie Herbekian, president of Unite Here Local 7. “It’s just surprising to us that the Orioles have not.”

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While the Orioles and MLB set aside $1 million for seasonal employees in March to make up for lost wages, the concession workers the team contracted through Delaware North who were laid off by the company do not fall under that umbrella. The Orioles said last month that all full-time and year-round part-time employees in baseball operations and on the business side will be paid through the end of May.

A USA Today survey last month that asked all 91 teams in the NHL, NBA and MLB to provide details of their financial assistance plans found that just 29 included third-party contractors, who often work in concessions, cleaning and security.

In 2015, the Orioles reimbursed hourly stadium employees for the time lost for the four games that were either relocated or not open to the public after the protests in Baltimore sparked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who succumbed to injuries suffered while in police custody. Delaware North compensated its own workers for those four games.

With indications that baseball will attempt to restart this summer without fans, Herbekian said that the conditions don’t look good for the union’s members getting work at the ballpark this year, with Ravens home games at M&T Bank Stadium also a question.

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“The teams around the nation, various teams have either given some pay to the food and retail workers, or given some money in a relief fund,” Herbekian said. “So it’s frustrating for people here because they really expected better from the Orioles. That hasn’t been our experience with them over the years, that they are really uncaring of all these workers.”

Through a spokesperson, the Orioles referred comment to Delaware North. In a statement to The Baltimore Sun, Delaware North director of corporate communications Glen White said that the company “understand[s] the hardship this unprecedented situation has caused our dedicated part-time employees in Baltimore and more than 50,000 others around the country."

“Unfortunately, the impact of the crisis on the hospitality industry has been deeper and longer lasting than anticipated, leaving nearly all of Delaware North’s businesses temporarily closed for two months and causing significant financial losses," White said. "We have been forced to place more than two-thirds of our 3,100 full-time employees on temporary leave, and thousands of part-time employees cannot be scheduled for work as a result of the shuttered operations. We greatly appreciate all of our employees and hope they remain healthy and safe as we look forward to resuming operations and welcoming them back at the appropriate time.”

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