Every one, including myself, is touting the drop dead date for the Meadowlands as April 15. Now that I have had some time to think about it, there may be in fact two drop dead dates; April 15 is the date when the lease needs to be signed sealed and delivered by the state, but the reality is, the first drop dead date may be April 8; the date all the unions need to agree to concessions to keep the clock running.
If you look at Harness Racing Updates's article on April 1, you see clues which indicate April 8 may be the real deadline. In the article you see Jeff Gural saying the following:
Hopefully, next week we can make a deal with the unions and then right after that I will sit down and see if I can overcome any problems (Christie’s office) may have with the proposal I made two weeks ago...”
If we can’t make a deal with the unions next week why would anyone think we could make a deal with them a month later.
One thing Jeff Gural has been with his negotiations is forthright. He tells it like it is and chooses his words carefully. Assuming a week is needed to settle issues with the Governor's office, he needs the unions on board by the end of this week. Now, if he and the unions are 95% there, the deadline may be extended but if the impasse has essentially not changed, we may be reading by this coming Saturday how the deal is off. As Gural says, the horsemen need to make their plans for the rest of the year.
Of course, hopefully this is all academic and cooler heads will prevail..
The question may be asked why is the teller's union playing hardball? Simulcasting. Yes, at night when the Meadowlands races there may not be much need for tellers, but during the day when there is afternoon simulcasting of thoroughbred races, there are more tellers working than at night. If the Meadowlands closes, the jobs at night are lost, but if they make the back paddock into an OTW, the union may be assuming all those tellers who are working during afternoon simulcasting sessions will just move into the back paddock when construction is complete; working for the same salaries and staffing levels they currently have. In the meanwhile, while live racing may come to an end, simulcasting (at least during the day) will continue. The union may be thinking to sacrifice those evening jobs in order to keep the daytime jobs, especially if the more senior members of the union have the right to bounce newer tellers if there are cutbacks.