1/2/08

SEIU picket line fails in first new strike of '08

Parimutuel clerks went on strike and started picketing Tuesday at Ellis Park in Henderson, KY, where they were being asked to take a 24 percent pay cut. The clerks' contract expired Monday night, leading to their first strike at the track.

A track official said it had no problem staffing the parimutuel windows.

"Ten people are working today," said Bob Jackson, Ellis Park director of operations. "I only had seven scheduled. But I had some volunteer to work, so I told them to go ahead and come in."

Picketers saw four union members cross the line, including two who work at the betting windows and two who work in the office, said Service Employees International Union Local 514 President Herman Fehler.

Union members overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer Friday that would have reduced wages from $15.80 to $12 an hour and eliminated certain fringe benefits.

Carl Renck, a clerk and member of the negotiating committee, has said union members merely want the current salaries and benefits to continue.

Track owner Ron Geary said contract concessions are needed to help keep the track, which is losing money, afloat until it is known whether Kentucky lawmakers and voters will agree to amend the state constitution to allow casino gambling at racetracks.

The union represents about 150 parimutuel clerks who work the betting windows and in related jobs at the track.

(kentucky.com)

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