Jacobs' plan for Garden workers isn't good enough

Scott McLaughlin
March 21, 2020 - 4:21 pm
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The Jacobs finally announced their plan for TD Garden Bruins gameday workers on Saturday. It isn’t nearly good enough.

After leaving those workers hanging for more than a week following the NHL’s suspension of its season, while watching the league’s other 30 owners announce plans for gameday workers and coming under increasing criticism for not following suit, Jeremy Jacobs apparently felt just enough pressure to do the bare minimum.

“The Jacobs Family has established a $1.5 million fund for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden part-time gameday associates who will be financially burdened if the six remaining regular season Bruins games are not played,” their statement reads. “We thank our associates for their patience and understanding while we worked through the complexity of this unprecedented situation.”

There are a few key points in this statement. The first is the word “if,” as in “if the six remaining regular season Bruins game are not played.”

This appears to mean that these gameday workers will only be paid out of this fund IF the Bruins’ last six regular-season home games are canceled, and not just suspended as they are now. That decision may not come for weeks or even months, as it remains unclear when or if the NHL will resume play this season, and what the schedule will look like when or if they do.

That’s not good enough. These workers need help now, not maybe, possibly, potentially a couple months from now. Unlike Jeremy Jacobs, whom Forbes estimates is worth more than $3 billion, many of them can’t afford to just ride out this coronavirus storm without getting paid. They still have bills to pay and food and supplies to buy, and they rely on those gameday checks to help them do it.

The vast majority of plans from team owners across the sports world include paying workers now, as they should. The Jacobs had all the time in the world to see what their fellow billionaire owners were doing, and to see the continuing criticism people like Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills, have been coming under for not paying workers immediately (and in the case of the Pegulas, for laying off hospitality workers with no guarantee their jobs will be there when games resume), and yet they still chose this path.

That brings us to another key point: the plan makes no mention of anything other than the Bruins’ six remaining regular-season games. No mention of concerts, no mention of the Celtics’ remaining home games, and no mention of Delaware North concessions workers at venues across the country.

While some team owners’ plans have included concessions workers even if they’re not directly employed by the team, the Pegulas left Delaware North concessions workers out of their plan, essentially putting the ball in the Jacobs’ court.

Similarly, Celtics ownership announced a plan to pay all team gameday employees through the rest of the regular season, but did not include TD Garden staff in their plan, presumably because the Jacobs and Delaware North own the Garden and are responsible for those workers, not the Celtics.

So all those workers -- Garden employees for Celtics games and other events, and Delaware North employees around the country who aren’t being covered by other team owners -- are still left to wonder if anything at all is going to be done for them. WEEI.com learned that late this week Garden associates received an email from the concessions management team suggesting they try to file for unemployment.

It’s possible there may be more plans coming for those workers. It’s also possible that maybe the wording of the Jacobs’ statement just wasn’t clear and there actually will be some sort of immediate relief for Bruins gameday workers. But that seems unlikely. They had over a week to come up with this; there shouldn’t be any ambiguity.

(A WEEI.com request for clarification sent early Saturday afternoon has not yet been answered. Furthermore, the Jacobs themselves have been unavailable to the media since the suspension of games was announced, so answers in general have been hard to come by.)

The Jacobs’ statement ends by thanking “our associates for their patience and understanding while we worked through the complexity of this unprecedented situation.”

It really doesn’t seem that complex, though. Either you want to take care of the workers who have helped make you billions or you don’t. The Jacobs’ lengthy delay in doing anything, followed by a weak plan that seemingly takes no immediate action, still leaves out many of their employees, and that only came after mounting public criticism, makes it pretty clear where the Jacobs stand.

They got shamed into even doing this much and deserve no credit for it.

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