Churchill Downs Valets Still Without Contract and Warn of Kentucky Derby Disruptions

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LOUISVILLE — After a weekend of protests with neighborhood and labor allies calling on Churchill Downs to do by proper by its staff, the Licensed Racing Valets who’re important to the Kentucky Derby’s success are nonetheless with out a contract and say they’re keen to do no matter it takes to carry the vastly worthwhile firm accountable. Protests and demonstrations are anticipated to proceed this week. Traditionally, Derby Week generates tens of tens of millions of {dollars} in income for the Louisville enterprise neighborhood and the complete Commonwealth. Labor unrest and disruptions may drastically cut back the quantity of income for local area businesses, just about all of which had been harmed final 12 months when Derby Week was cancelled on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Churchill Downs Included posted $1.054 billion in internet income for 2020, and its CEO Invoice Carstanjen made $10.5 million, but the corporate is refusing to pay its valets at Churchill Downs Racetrack (CDRT) and Turfway Park a good wage and supply fundamental office protections to make sure ample staffing ranges on the racetracks.

“There’s no Kentucky Derby with out the onerous work of our Licensed Racing Valets, and Churchill Downs’s disregard for his or her fundamental wants is a slap in face after our members have spent many years constructing the corporate’s income,” stated Don Vest, President of SEIU Native 541. “Churchill Downs is so grasping that they’d somewhat threaten the Derby expertise for tens of millions of individuals and deprive local businesses of much-needed income than pay employees a modest amount of cash that the CEO makes earlier than he finishes his morning cup of espresso.”

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Valets Work is Crucial To Success & Security Of Kentucky Derby

The Licensed Racing Valets are extremely expert employees whose work is crucial to the success and security of the Kentucky Derby operation. They need to saddle the racehorses and ensure every horse is compliant with stringent racing rules. The Racing Valets at CDRT, together with these at Turfway Park in Covington, Kentucky, have been working beneath expired contracts for months. Churchill Downs abruptly cancelled negotiations scheduled for final week after the Racing Valets’ union, despatched its proposals to the corporate. Churchill Downs has refused to return to the bargaining desk, selecting as a substitute to strain the Racing Valets to just accept substandard wages and pension advantages, a few of which haven’t been elevated for as many as 22 years. Their choice displays its willingness to gamble with the livelihoods of its loyal staff in addition to these of the native and regional enterprise neighborhood.

Thirty-five 12 months valet Ronnie Shelton expressed his frustrations with the corporate’s disregard for its staff to ABC affiliate WHAS 11 at a protest Saturday: “…I don’t perceive their emotions on it. That is the very last thing on this planet we’d need at this cut-off date. It’s a cloud and it’s over Churchill and it’s over us.”

He continued: “It’s kinda hurtful, you set in all these years within the job. And also you dedicate your self to it.”

Racing Valets Are Asking For Modest Will increase

The ratio of the CEO’s compensation to the median wage of the opposite full-time staff in 2020 ($26,000) is 404:1. Within the first few seconds of opening betting, the corporate simply makes the $27,000 it could value to totally cowl modest raises for its complete valet workforce.

The Racing Valets’ lawyer advised the Louisville Courier Journal, “This can be a company that simply takes, takes, takes, and we’re asking — for members of our community who’re important to the races — we’re asking for only a semblance of justice of their contract.”

Former candidate for U.S. Senate and former State Consultant Charles Booker rallied with the employees on Saturday. Affirming his assist for the employees and his calls on Churchill Downs to settle a good contract, he stated, “At any time when there’s a possibility to combat for justice and to combat for fairness, you’re going to see me there.”

The Licensed Racing Valets are presently paid about $16 an hour and are asking for modest will increase to their pay and contributions to their retirement accounts to supply monetary stability for themselves and their households. They’re additionally asking for assured valet staffing ranges at stay races to make sure consistency and security. In an effort to make a residing at racetracks that solely present work for 40-80 days per 12 months, valets should journey all through the nation to completely different race tracks and are accountable for their very own journey and housing prices.

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