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Agreement Allows Portland Ballpark Workers to Unionize

Portland Ballpark Rendering 4-11 (4)

Portland Diamond Project, the group hoping to land a Major League Baseball team with a new ballpark, has signed an agreement that effectively allows future ballpark workers to unionize. 

The Portland Diamond Project is leading the effort to bring MLB to the Oregon city, with a potential ballpark at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2 at the center of its pitch. Plenty of work still has to be done if the group to build a ballpark and obtain an MLB team, regardless of whether it comes via expansion or relocation of an existing franchise, but it took a notable step on Monday with the announcement of a labor harmony agreement with the Oregon AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations).

Per a press release issued by the Portland Diamond Project, the agreement applies to future ballpark employees, including those working in areas such as concessions, program and retail sales, property service and security, hospitality service, stage and theatrical presentations, and entertainment and audio/visual services. This does not apply to ballpark construction jobs or community benefits, which would have to be addressed through a later agreement.

Monday’s agreement has been met with positive reception from local officials, while Portland Diamond Project and union leaders touted the importance of the deal.

“By signing this agreement, the Portland Diamond Project has shown us they value and respect the rights of working people and care for the prosperity of the community,” Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain said in a press statement. “Oregon’s unions are proud to be a part of the efforts to bring baseball to the Rose City and to be a part of the only unionized sports arena in the state of Oregon. By giving workers the unfettered opportunity for union representation, we are securing a bright economic future for the women and men who will make baseball happen in Portland. When working people stand together in unions, we get a fair return on our hard work.”

“Unions and their hard-working members are essential to a regional economy that works for working people,” Portland Diamond Project Founder and President Craig Cheek said in a press statement. “We are proud to partner with the Oregon AFL-CIO and the State Federation’s affiliated unions to ensure that Portland is better with baseball—and that baseball is better with our labor community. This agreement is just the beginning of PDP’s efforts to generate economic opportunities for Portlanders and people across the region.”

“With the Portland Diamond Project working hand in hand with our labor community to advance this historic agreement, the region will see the economic benefits created by a new ballpark shared across our community,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement. “This labor agreement is a significant milestone on our path to bringing a Major League Baseball team to Portland. The energy behind this movement continues to grow each day.”

Instances in which employees at sports venues are unionized are rare, though not unprecedented. Within baseball circles, one prominent example is Champion Stadium–the former Atlanta Braves spring home at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex–where employees are unionized.

Rendering courtesy Portland Diamond Project.

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