Workers demand solutions from Twins, city of Minneapolis for fair scheduling, end to wage theft
After meeting with temp workers and representatives of the Minnesota Twins and Delaware North on Monday following a rally of temp workers fighting for better working conditions at the Twins stadium, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change received a response from Delaware North that refused responsibility for documented concerns about the labor practices of temp agencies, including workers standing in lines unpaid, short notice of schedule, and an unpredictable payment process that prioritizes payment to debit cards that often fail to activate and charge exorbitant fees for basic services. The letter referenced and acknowledged the worker concerns but deferred responsibility to fix the problems.
"Delaware North says that it's up to the temp agencies to decide to pay us for standing in line and any back pay," said Sondra Jones, who has worked at Target Field the last two summers. "But they hire the temp agencies, so why can't they enforce basic rights? We need back pay for the time spent in line unpaid, and we can't leave that up to the goodwill of the temp agencies. We need the Twins to take action to make sure all workers in their stadium are treated fairly. Practices like these are exactly why we need the city of Minneapolis to pass laws for fair scheduling and an end to wage theft."
Though corporate lobbyists have called proposed city ordinances for fair scheduling and an end to wage theft "a solution in search of a problem," the egregious labor conditions at Target Field, and the refusal of any one actor to take responsibility for the problem, have shown a clear need for stronger regulation.
Delaware North also refused to take responsibility for short notice scheduling, often communicated via text message from the temp agency only hours before a report time, or for the low pay from temp agencies, sometimes below the state-mandated minimum wage through a "small business" loophole.
"In the absence of a clear hiring process for permanent workers, one has to wonder if Delaware North or the Twins themselves are in fact incentivizing a cheap pool of unprotected workers--a highly racialized pool of day laborers with no clear management structure and almost zero protections under the law," said Mike Griffin, field director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.
"The treatment of black workers at Target Field is a civil rights issue. Economic justice has long been a cornerstone of the civil rights movement," said Carlos Zhingre, co-chair of the Minneapolis NAACP Labor Commission. "The injustice of working conditions for Target Field temp workers, who are predominantly black, concerns us greatly. We stand for fairness, equality, and respect for Target Field temp workers and call on the Twins to fix the racial economic divide inside their stadium."
"Too often in Minnesota, black workers are treated as second and third class citizens. The unequal treatment of temporary workers at Target Field is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by corporate giants, such as the Minnesota Twins," said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP.
Despite the noncommittal response from Delaware North, workers are optimistic about the opportunity to improve working conditions at Target Field. Chase Elliott, a Target Field worker who was not paid on time this week and has been penalized with exorbitant fees just to check the balance on the debit card where his paycheck would be deposited, remained upbeat.
"We're a big part of making the games fun for people and we deserve respect, just like the fans and the players. I believe that if the Twins know about how we're treated they'll want to fix it," said Chase Elliott.
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