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Churchill Downs Valet Union is okay on strike, Kentucky Derby possible walkout

Published: April 29, 2021, 10:17 a.m.

Last Updated: April 29, 2021, 10:22 am.

Steve Bittenbender

The valets at Churchill Downs received permission to strike from the union representing them. This means workers who help prepare the horses and jockeys for the races can leave ahead of Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs valets
SEIU Local 541 members and their supporters stand outside Churchill Downs on Saturday called on the company to approve a new employment contract for the union's lackeys. (Photo: Kay Tillow / Facebook)

On Wednesday evening, the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council (GLCLC) held an emergency meeting to discuss how 50,000 union members could offer support to members of the Local Union of Service Workers (SEIU) 541.

Earlier that day, the union's national leadership agreed, meaning SEIU's 2 million members will support their colleagues if they choose to leave.

There are plans for a possible Friday leaflet session to detail the possible Saturday strike.

The Rose Run is a Kentucky sporting event, "GLCLC president Todd Dunn said in a release. “It is our face for the whole world. From lackeys to pari-mutuel officials to the people who laid the garland of roses, the Kentucky Derby is made in the Union. All these workers are essential. With Derby only a few hours away, Greater Louisville's Central Labor Council stands ready to side with these workers in any action. To hurt one is wrong to all.

The valets, pronounced with a hard "t", worked without a contract as their contract with Churchill Downs expired last October. The union also represents workers at Churchill's Turfway Park. They worked in the winter at Florence, Ky., Without a contract after this one expired last April.

Last week, a Louisville-based firm made a final offer to the union, which members turned down.

Tenants want raises, staff guarantees

The butler was currently earning $ 109 per day at Churchill and $ 16.77 hours per day at Turfway. The union wants to raise this to $ 120 per day on both tracks for the first year of a three-year contract, with increases of $ 5 per day in later years.

Churchill Downs wants to keep the same stake on its track of the same name for the first year. It was also proposed to raise Turfway's hourly wage to $ 17.02. In the last two years, both tracks would have increased, which would allow butlers to earn $ 120 a day at Churchill and $ 17.52 hours at Turfway.

SEIU Local 541 also wants increases for the pension fund. Turfway employee retirement contributions recently rose by 1999. Churchill Downs, who took over Turfway two years ago, offered no increase on either path.

The union also wants guaranteed numbers for each working day. In a statement by Churchill Downs Inc. He said staffing requirements depend on the number of horses entered into the race. However, the track partner added that he did not intend to allocate fewer parking lots on race days.

Butlers work approximately 70 days a year at Churchill Downs and 50 at Turfway each year.

Churchill urges the union's claims to be inaccurate

A spokesman for the song said Thursday Churchill Downs has a plan in case the footmen strike during the Derby.

In a statement released on Thursday, Churchill Downs Inc. the union's claims were not true. The company says it is still ready to negotiate a contract for Turfway, as this track will not resume racing until December.

Churchill Downs also said the proposed increases would make the valets pay more than any other circuit in the area with comparable race dates.

In addition, officials said the servants' salaries do not include the money they receive from jockeys for the extra work the players hire to perform. This money is based on a share of the wallets that the jockeys receive. Churchill Downs noted that he had increased by $ 3.1 million for this year's Spring Meeting.

"While the Kentucky Derby can be used as an awareness platform, we regret that in this situation, there are factual inaccuracies reported by those trying to take advantage of the Derby that affect our valued teammates and the potentially critical work they are doing at the Churchill Downs racetrack." we read in the statement.

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