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Labor Dispute Looms Over Edison Field

Picket signs could ring Edison International Field of Anaheim if the union representing food service workers at the stadium cannot reach agreement on a new contract by the Angels’ opening day.

The contract between the union and Ogden Management expires next month, and a union official said management must retreat from a contract proposal calling for sharp cuts in wages and benefits.

“If it’s clear the company doesn’t want to back down, we’ll have a strike opening day,” said Jose Navarrete, field representative for Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 681.

Ogden has proposed cuts in hourly wages of up to 31%, cuts in commissions to vendors and cuts in shifts that would render workers ineligible for health benefits, Navarrete said. Ogden states its agreement with the Walt Disney Co., which operates the stadium, necessitates the cutbacks, according to Navarrete.

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Kevin Uhlich, the Angels’ director of stadium operations, said Disney would not comment on negotiations in which the company is not involved. Ogden officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday.

“We weren’t there to negotiate with Disney. That’s their issue,” Navarrete said. “We want Disney to come into the picture or tell Ogden not to propose this stuff. Ogden is blaming Disney for making these proposals.”

If Ogden appears to bargain in good faith, Navarrete said, the union would consider any request to extend the current contract into the Angels’ season, which begins April 1. The current deal, he said, originally was extended in August.

However, Navarrete said, the union would feel no remorse in disrupting the grand opening of Disney’s $120-million renovated stadium if Ogden remains firm in its negotiating stance.

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“We’re not demanding anything. We want the same wages,” Navarrete said. “We just don’t want these cuts at a time it seems they’re prospering.”

While Disney hopes the union will not strike, Uhlich said the company would prepare the stadium either way and let negotiations run their course.


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