Saturday, September 1, 2007

Strike One for Camden Yards Workers

Sports Illustrated has reported recently that temporary workers who clean Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore plan on initiating a hunger strike on Labor Day if the city refuses to pay them a living wage.

The United Workers Association, a Baltimore based human rights organization founded by homeless day laborers that represents 800 cleaners at the park, announced that 11 workers and 3 allies will be participating as the workers make $7 an hour instead of the the city's living wage rate of $9.62 an hour because the stadium is state owned, and thus exempt from the law. This demand is incredibly modest considering that Maryland law mandates that state government contractors in the Baltimore area pay their employees $11.30 an hour, yet the company has found a loop hole that exempts them from providing this wage to temporary workers. According to SI, "the stadium authority has contracted janitorial services to a Michigan firm, which uses subcontractors that hire the temporary workers." Gee wiz, can you say Clean Power? (A subcontractor of janitors in the Southern Wisconsin area that used similar tactics as well as intimidation in order to prevent the unionization of its temporary workers who earned well below the living wage.)

The biggest hypocrisy in this situation, as sportswriter Dave Zirin has argued time and time again, is that states are willing to spend 100s of millions of dollars to build domed arenas in the US with taxpayer dollars (the majority of whom could never afford to attend a game especially if they're making minimum wage). This disgusting example of corporate welfare and it's consequences can be seen from the slave-like conditions of these workers to the diverting of highway/infrastucture funding to certain wars and occupations. *cough cough* Katrina, Minneapolis.

Given the low levels of unionization in the US today, the appallingly low levels of access to quality healthcare, and the embarrassingly low minimum wage (all of which have not been addressed fully by the Dems since November despite the obvious 'mandate'), I wouldn't be surprised if we see more militancy among non-union workers like . Si se puede!