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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Local 137 Approves Contract

The Executive Board of Local 137 has unaminously approved a revised contract with the Gural-led group which appears to clear the way for Jeff Gural to lease the Meadowlands.  A legal ruling was received by the executive board indicated their approval removed the need for a vote from the general membership.

This is not without any concession by the Gural-led group.  While the workers will have to accept a 20% cut in pay at the conclusion of the current contract, wording which the union felt threatened senority rights was removed, thus ensuring senority rights are preserved without doubt.  In addition, the contract was further sweetened to modify the definition of what constitutes a full time employee for pension and benefits to reflect the gross reduction of racing dates.  To qualify for full time status an employee must work 200 shifts a year with live and simulcast racing shifts counting the same. 

The reality of the situation is a win-win.  Yes, the tellers had to accept a painful 20% pay cut and considering what has happened to them in the past, I understand the anger.  Unfortunately, they were taking the frustration out on the wrong person.  The tellers are an unfortunate victim of circumstances as are a lot of people.  While everyone was focusing on the pay cuts, the Gural-led group was also sacrificing by agreeing to losing a projected $1 million a month until the new grandstand is opened with the possibility of a casino at the Meadowlands, conceivably not occuring before 2018 if the Governor is re-elected to a second term and still without a guarantee that the horsemen would share in it.  But the win part for the union was their getting their senority rights and ability to obtain full time status clarified so no one should lose benefits due to the revised schedule nor should anyone fear being dumped for someone making a smaller salary.  Hopefully, the animosity of the past two months can be put behind as everyone moves forward.

Will the Meadowlands resume racing May 7.  Nothing has been said yet, but my assumption is it is unlikely; a delay of a week or two seems inevitable.  Remember, there are still a few minor issues in the lease which need to be addressed but they appear not to be show stoppers, the main issue the division of simulcating revenues with the thoroughbred horsemen.  It appears the lease may be finalized by the end of the week.  However, the threatened layoffs should be cancelled and simulcasting should continue without interuption.

Those in the harness racing world and New Jersey in particular will be sleeping easier tonight.


The_Knight_Sky said...

So the NJ thoroughbred horsemen half-heartedly kill off the Meadowlands autumn meet over the years by racing sporadically and during the daytime, now have to beg for a share of Big M simulcasting revenue to bolster purses at Monmouth Park.

They should be forced to race in the autumn. Labor day to Breeders Cup Day. It's simple common sense.

What is illogical is the lifeless racing being conducted in October and November at Monmouth Park. Summer's over - school has begun.

Keep the summer meet strong and move north. It's really quite simple. Thoroughbred horsemen should not be putting all of their eggs into one basket. There is no future for NJ thoroughbred racing industry with a stand alone racetrack in the state.

Pacingguy said...

Actually, a move North will probably not be possible. First of all, if I recall racing at the Meadowlands for the runners has never been a success. They raced during the day to cut expenses.

Secondly, the Meadowlands is meant to be harness track under the Christie plan and Monmouth a thoroughbred track. For quality racing, forget Freehold. Harness racing is like thoroughbred racing, all the eggs in one basket.

I think the problem you have with NJ thoroughbred racing is notthe standalone situation. It is the horsemen's insistence of racing 141days this year. After the summer, they could race Saturday and Sunday and draw decent handle and crowd provided they don't offer $5,000 claimers which they will if they insist on racing 141 days.

Why have a six day meet at the Meadowlands at all? Why not make a deal where Monmouth agrees to take harness simulcasts at night and pay the harness horsemen a pct of their take and the reverse at the Meadowlands. Otherwise, Monmouth should be forced to let the trotters race a week at Monmouth to be fair.

Fortunately/unfortunately, this has basically been decided already. It is probably a question of fine tuning.

The_Knight_Sky said...

PacingGuy wrote: First of all, if I recall racing at the Meadowlands for the runners has never been a success. They raced during the day to cut expenses.

The Meadowlands tbreds in the autumn was quite popular in my day The product was strong and well attended back when I started in the mid to late 80's. I see no reason why it can't succeed in a boutique meet format.

The cost-cutting measure you're talking about is actually the NJSEA shutting down the backstretch and forcing the tbreds to compete while shipping in from the farms and other tracks. That was a mistake and hurt the field sizes.

It's not the archaic 141 day meet rule that is important as the fact that for thoroughbred racing to thrive NJ needs more than just Monmouth Park. Freehold supplements the Meadowlands harness product. At the moment we have Atlantic City and their 6 day grass-fests for out of state horsemen. That's not going to strengthen the breeding industry. Nor is having Monmouth Park race into November. That's lunacy.

The fact that the Meadowlands standardbreds are determined to cutting down the race days plays right into an optimal the NJ thoroughbred calendar. They may be two different lease-holders but I see no reason why there cannot be cooperation under one landlord to benefit both breeds.

Pacingguy said...

Knight, first of all Freehold saddly does not much for the Meadowlands and Freehold is just fighting to survive. They may be closed witin a year or two.

And with all do respect, I think with the latest attempt by the NJTHPA I can't agree they would do a darn thing to help the standardbreds; they want them out.