A common theme you hear from all corners is why Jeff Gural doesn't just stop dealing with the tellers and when the contract expires on February 1, replace them.
Oh, if it was just that easy. Actually, it is far from easy and full of pitfalls.
Let's get through with the legalities now. I am not a lawyer, nor do I provide any legal advice. You should always consult a licensed attorney if you want completely accurate information or are in a situation where you have any issue with labor relations. Taking legal advice from this blogger is foolish.
Now, with those legalities taken care of, let me give you a layman's explanation of why "just replace the tellers" is not an easy thing to do. Being I have had only one semester of Business Law at college, and the last I looked, there have been no television dramas with labor layers involved to learn from, I am far from an authority and am sure some of what I am about to say is incorrect. There are those far more eminently qualified to discuss this subject, but being I lack the financial resources to consult such an authority, for purposes of our discussion what I am about to say should suffice.
My (very) limited understanding of labor law tells me if Jeff Gural decided he was not going to deal with this union and just replace the tellers, it is not that simple. There is a contract with Local 137 which is still in effect. As such, being a labor union is in place, he can not just ignore the union, but would have to continue to negotiate in good faith. Were management to decide to terminate or modify the current collective bargaining agreement, they would need to notify the union and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) 60 days ahead of time and either side may request a mediator.
If no contract is agreed to by February 1, management could declare an impasse and impose the last best offer and let the employees work under that contract which likely would result in a strike. The other option management has is with no contract in place, it could lock the tellers out until a contract is worked out. If there were a strike, he could allow workers to cross the picket line and train/hire replacements for the others and after a period of time he can tell the tellers if they don’t come back by a certain date they will have lost their jobs for good.
Also remember in any labor dispute, the possibility of sabotage, rule book slowdown, or criminal mischief is a possibility but not a certainty. So things could get messy.
In the meanwhile, expect the union to go to the National Labor and Relations Board (NLRB) accusing management of not negotiating in good faith and if an impasse is declared, the previously mentioned mediator comes into play as does the threat of lawsuits, petitions to the NJRC to not allow the Meadowlands to race until the teller situation is settled, etc. All of which management may very well prevail in, but once a third party is involved, you can never be certain as to how the cookie crumbles, known as the legal principle of cookie crumbulus (Okay, I made that one up).
But then the question comes do other unions honor the inevitable picket lines? I am not even talking about the Meadowlands' unions, which I assume would not, but groups like Teamsters (the ones that drive the trucks which deliver supplies to the track), Autotote workers who maintain the tote machines (assuming they are unionized), and whoever else may do business with the Meadowlands.
There is another option where union workers could vote to de-certify themselves or join another union if they felt their leadership was not working in their best interests. But good luck with that and it too will be delayed by petitions to the NLRB from within the union itself. All of this would have to be done without interference from management or they get into trouble.
Jeff Gural may ultimately prevail, but at what cost and aggravation? Now you know why he has been seeking contract extensions, so he doesn't need to deal with this mess once he takes over operations of the Meadowlands and until recently, he said without contract extensions, he would walk away.
If you want to get an explanation at the 10,000 foot level, you may read the following from the NLRB and you can peruse the FMCS website as well..
Remember, when all we talked about was racing? I long for those days and hope it won't be much longer until we can..