Here at Picked Last, we’re all about talking shit and doing shit, so we took a group trip to last week’s Giants/Padres game on Tuesday to support community members who showed solidarity by staging a sit in at Gilroy Garlic stand in section 119ish. Nevermind that it was the same night as the NBA Finals game 6, and it was two teams that this Dodgers fan could care less about (I wondered if it was possible for both teams to lose, it’s not, and Harjit was keeping a keen eye on Matt Cain’s strikeout accumulation while supporting the action, #multitasking).
If you’ve been following us at Picked Last, you’ll know we have a special place in our hearts for the concessions workers at AT&T Park, who are currently negotiating a new contract (they’ve been working without a contract since 2010) from subcontractor Centerplate. The workers want a perfectly reasonable and modest wage increase.
Despite the Bay Area being such an expensive place to live, these workers wages have been frozen since 2010 despite the Giants’ success the last few years. ::cough:: And the Giants take a 50% cut of all sales so it’s not like the Giants can even do the whole “hey, we’re not responsible for our contractors” B.S. that companies like Wal-Mart and Nike regularly pull the wash their hands of working conditions their sweatshops in the Global South.
And before all the armchair economists get all hyphy on me, each concession stand makes at least $17,000 per game. Centerplate and the Giants can afford an increase in wages. I mean, beers are $10.50! And that’s domestic! According to Forbes, the Giants are the seventh most valuable team in the MLB and had revenues of $262 million in 2012.
The picket line outside of the park started rolling around 5 PM and picked up steam until the game was well underway. About 400 demonstrators formed two long picket lines in front of the Willie Mays gate. At about 6:45ish, forty-four community members and activists staged a sit-in, disrupting business at usual at the Gilroy Garlic fries concessions stand at AT&T Park. Protesters chanted “Centerplate, it’s unfair, don’t eat here” and blocked fans from buying food at the stand. Madness ensued. One fan, angry at the disruption, tried to plow through the sit in, and barge his way to the front of the line to buy fries. He was unable to, despite finding a way to step through the sitting demonstrators. A few fans however were supportive: one fan commented that despite really really wanting garlic fries, there’s no way she was going to cross the picket line.
Most folks just wanted to see what was up and put their smartphone cameras to good use. And like any good protest, there was the obligatory heckler who yelled that everybody should “get a job”. Nevermind that the AT&T Park workers in question are currently employed as AT&T Park workers. Things did get ugly when one cop in particular didn’t like the look of one Giants fan who “just wanted to take a photo.” No really, those were his words when the cop in question stepped right into his phone camera and told him to GTFO.
I’m sure that darker skinned young Asian guy posed a real threat with his iPhone 4 with his thuggish oversize (Giants) jacket and (Giants) beanie. Because when those white girls came by to take photos he was all smiles for the camera and youngladypleasemovealong. Dear Giants Fan, that was bull and we all know it.
Mostly though it was a by-the-books direct action. 10 protesters were cited then released, they and the rest were escorted outside the park. The action was significant too because of the wide support from community organizations not directly engaged in this contract fight. From In These Times:
[Alex Tom, executive director of Chinese Progressive Association] said support from community groups like his was important in putting pressure on the company. “Centerplate has made a lot of money off the backs of these workers,” he said outside the ballpark after being released, “and it’s time for them to give back.”
There you go, even the Asians are all up in this. Come on Centerplate and the Giants, do the right thing.
To find more information about the campaign and find out what you can do, mozy on over to The Giant Zero.