Track employees approve contract

January 04, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

By an 8-to-1 margin, thoroughbred track employees voted yesterday to accept a new contract that essentially freezes pay levels for 1 1/2 years but doesn't require workers to make any other major concessions.

"The track was looking for serious cuts," said George Murphy, business representative at Laurel/Pimlico for Local 27 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents the employees. "But when they realized they were going to have to get us out on the street to do it, they said, "OK, we'll work with you.' "

About half of the approximately 750 employees turned out at the Pikesville Hilton yesterday and voted 306-39 to accept the 18-month contract.

The mood of the membership was remarkably conciliatory. "The first meeting I've been to in 20 years where there wasn't any ranting or raving," said longtime mutuels employee Nathan Smith.

Among the workers voting on the contract were mutuels employees, admission, parking and security personnel, jockeys' valets and the starting-gate crew.

Union president Buddy Mays said: "I really believe they were serious about making big cuts. They've had losses three out of the last four years and I've seen the arrangement they have with the bank.

"The tracks have to perform at a certain level to keep the favorable interest rate that they have on their loans right now. They have to meet those covenants or the interest rate goes back up and that could cost them $1 million or $1.5 million."

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