Track employees to vote on deal

January 03, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

A 14-member bargaining committee representing about 750 track employees who are members of Local 27 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has unanimously endorsed new 1 1/2 -year contract with Laurel/Pimlico management.

Union employees meet this morning at the Pikesville Hilton to vote on whether to ratify the pact.

The bargaining committee's endorsement accompanied a 49-item list that was distributed to the labor force late yesterday and summarized the status of conditions in the agreement.

According to the document, management apparently has withdrawn its request that the employees make major wage and benefit concessions. Reductions in the basic wage rate and pay for holidays and overtime were withdrawn, and controversial items such as merging seniority lists at Pimlico and Laurel were set aside for further study.

The contract appears basically to be a continuation of the current pact, which was adopted in 1989 and modified in 1993. Health coverage has been changed from conventional Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance to a managed care system provided by Optimum Choice Inc., an affiliate of M.D. IPA.

The short term of the contract apparently was agreed upon to see whether a current upswing in business continues and how such new elements as a track in Virginia and casino gambling could affect Laurel/Pimlico.

Employees set to vote today include mutuels workers, parking, admissions and security personnel, jockeys' valets and the starting gate crew.

Lucrative holiday week

When the seven-day holiday week extending from the day after Christmas through Jan. 2 ended yesterday, betting had reached nearly $20 million in gross Maryland proceeds.

The live Laurel card was responsible for about $12.3 million in bets, about $7.2 million wagered in Maryland on the Laurel product and $5.1 million bet on the Laurel races at out-of-state outlets.

A total of about $7.3 million was wagered in Maryland during the seven-day period on out-of-state simulcasts.

H

Good weather contributed to the remarkable betting week.

HBPA out at Charles Town

The Charles Town division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has vacated its offices at the Charles Town racetrack in Charles Town, W.Va., and is no longer representing horsemen in their dealings with management, track spokesman Paul Espinosa said yesterday.

Instead, a new horsemen's group called the Charles Town Horsemen's Association has been formed and is working out a plan with management to keep the stable area and track open for training.

The HBPA did not exercise its option on Dec. 31 to continue paying management about $2,500 a day for use of the track and barn area. The track was closed for training Sunday, and horsemen were told to vacate the premises by Jan. 10.

However, Espinosa said that Charles Town president D. Keith Wagner has told the new horsemen's group he will keep the stable area open for two weeks at no cost as "an expression of support" for the organization and will open the track for training three days a week.

For several years, Wagner and Randy Funkhouser, president of the HBPA, had had a contentious relationship. Jim Palmer, president of the new horsemen's group, vowed yesterday to work with management and the state's racing commission in "a cooperative manner."

The Charles Town track has not applied for 1995 racing dates, citing losses of $1 million in 1994 and rejection by local voters in November to allow installation of slot machines at the track. Charles Town closed its doors on Dec. 11 for live racing and on Dec. 31 for simulcasting.

Palmer said the new horsemen's group wants to explore ways to re-open the track for racing.

Miscellaneous

The 13-year-old Maryland stallion, Dover Ridge, sired his first stakes winner when White Cliffs scored a head victory in the $32,874 Kattegat's Pride Stakes at Laurel on Saturday. The 3-year-old filly is owned by Ralph O'Connor and was bred by her trainer, Carlos Garcia, and his wife, Carol. Dover Ridge stands at Summer Wind Farm in Libertytown. . . . Ameri Valay increased his career earnings to more than $600,000 when he won the Congressional Handicap at Laurel over the weekend. Owners Nick and Elaine Bassford turned down an offer of $85,000 for the horse before the race. The Bassfords will keep racing the son of Carnivalay in 1995 but eventually plan to stand him at stud.

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