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MLB Players Association starts fund to help stadium workers during lockout

MLBPA head Tony Clark: “This fund is intended to support workers who are most affected by the MLB-imposed lockout but whose livelihoods have been disregarded by the owners in their efforts to pressure Players into accepting an unfair deal.”

Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-0 during a baseball game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

In the cool-down period between negotiations — not counting the mostly scheduling meeting between player and owner representatives on Thursday in New York — there is time in MLB’s labor war for a public relations battle on the side. To that end, the players claimed the high ground on Friday.

The MLB Players Association announced on Friday the creation of a $1 million fund to help workers affected by the league’s lockout.

On Tuesday, commissioner Rob Manfred announced the cancelation of the first two series of the season. The Dodgers’ opening homestand, which included four games against the Rockies and three against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, were among the 91 major league games canceled.

The MLBPA is going to team with the AFL-CIO to figure out the distribution of funds to janitors, concessions workers, broadcasting crews, groundskeepers, and various other stadium workers affected by games missed.

“There are a lot of people who make our game great. Many aren’t seen or heard, but they are vital to the entertainment experience of our games,” Andrew Miller and Max Scherzer, members of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, they will also be among those affected by the owner-imposed lockout and the cancellation of games. Through this fund, we want to let them know that they have our support.”

A cynical view is that $1 million only amounts to $33,333 per MLB team/stadium, and this is more of a PR ploy than actual help. But the players aren’t the ones responsible for paying these workers, and at the very least deserve credit for the gesture.

MLB teams are the ones who pay these workers for games worked, whether directly or through third-party vendors.

In a statement from the local UNITE HERE, the union for food service, hotel, and airport workers, Dee Dee Reed, a concessions worker at Dodger Stadium for three decades, said, “As concessions workers we know what it takes to stand up against the boss for what we deserve. I am proud to stand with MLB players fighting for a fair contract.”

The league also plans to set up a fund to help workers, per Jesse Rogers at ESPN, but the players were first in this endeavor, for as much as that might matter.

But if MLB owners and players really want to help stadium workers, they can get back to negotiating, so that an agreement can be reached to limit future games missed.