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MLB teams pledge $1 million each to help stadium workers during coronavirus shutdown

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Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets

LOS ANGELES — All 30 Major League Baseball teams pledged to contribute $1 million each toward a fund that would help compensate stadium workers for wages lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB agreed earlier this week to push back opening day in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that social gatherings nationwide be limited to no more than 50 people for eight weeks. Given that timeline, opening day would be roughly May 11, and that’s if everything breaks right.

Through May 10, Dodger Stadium will have missed 25 games, including the regular season and two missed Freeway Series exhibition games. Angel Stadium, by contrast, will have missed 17 games by then.

“Nearly four million fans pass through our gates each year, and it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing service provided by our great gameday staff that makes the Dodger Stadium experience so special,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “These are challenging economic times, and we want to make sure that we support this in this committed group that may be having a particularly difficult time.”

Unite Here Local 11, a union that represents 32,000 service and hospitality workers in California and Arizona, and 5,600 stadium workers in southern California, sent letters on March 12 to all local sports teams asking for their help in protecting their workers for games missed. Here is an excerpt of the union letter sent to the Dodgers, obtained by SB Nation:

“The prospect of canceled games and games being played solely for television audiences will have enormous consequences for service workers. Large scale layoffs could mean that thousands of workers do not have the income they need to pay rent or a mortgage to keep their families housed and that they lose access individual and family healthcare in the midst a public health crisis.

“In this light and in a spirit of shared sacrifice, we write to ask that your company step in to help ensure that, in the event that games are closed to spectators or cancelled entirely, Dodger Stadium’s subcontracted food service workers are provided with the wages and healthcare benefits that they would have received were they able to work.”

The Lakers, Clippers, and Kings created a fund, reportedly worth at least $5 million, on March 14 to help Staples Center workers for missed NBA and NHL games. Those leagues have already missed games though, while the first game originally scheduled for a major league park wasn’t until March 22, which explains why the commitment from MLB teams came later.

“The current pandemic is unprecedented for us and for our industries,” a spokesperson for Unite Here told SB Nation. “We are pleased that the teams have pledged to support the concessions workers who are an integral part of the park experience. We hope that it will be enough to support our workers and their families through the crisis.”