Friday, April 15, 2011

Only in New Jersey

Admittedly, I am the least bit interested in harness racing, but feel bad for the harness players and patrons of the Meadowlands in light of Thursday's report that the tellers union will not vote on job concessions to keep the track in operation.  Clearly I am missing something, since to me it looks as if the track will close down -- and many jobs will be lost -- if investor Jeff Gural cannot work out some kind of arrangement toward a workable business model.

As a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, one would think I would be entirely sympathetic to organized labor (not the case), but as a fan of the sport you would have to be oblivious to think racing can succeed in New Jersey on its own, considering the huge operating costs and no slot gaming to augment purses, much as they have in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York.  I am no insider, but based on Governor Christie's rhetoric about racing and foolish belief that AC is the best place to invest in restructuring, it looks like Mr. Gural is the only one interested in saving the Meadowlands, so for organized labor leaders to scoff at a new business model is a disservice, again, to the fewer fans who support the sport.  Really, in all of this, New Jersey's live racing fans are the ones who get the short end of the stick.

Speaking of the Meadowlands, I am planning on participating there in the Horse Player World Series Qualifier on Saturday afternoon. With rain in the forecast for the area tomorrow, I'm figuring Aqueduct will have a ton of scratches, leaving Gulfstream, Keeneland and Oaklawn as the other three contest tracks for me to consider.  I plan on going in cold and seeing what happens.  It cannot be worse than having done a ton of prep work heading into the January and March simulcast contests at Monmouth Park and losing out.


  1. I cannot help but feel that those leading this particular union have miscalculated. First, they are banking on leverage for when the negotiations start with the Monmouth Park mutuel clerks with Morris Bailey whenever he takes over.

    Secondly, I have doubts this particular union has the best interests of the Big M employees in mind. NO VOTE for a 20% cut in salaries and benefits in order to create a long term business model? The unions know fully well their contract was with the NJSEA lasting till February of 2012. Jeff Gural is not the problem.

    You don't think there was some Atlantic City casino money involved in the decision? hmm?

    Should The Big M fall, it would be one step in an incredible series of shortsighted moves by the power brokers. I'd love to make plans to take my action elsewhere but we have no OTW's besides The Meadowlands up here. Very disappointing. Very frustrating.

  2. Agreed re: leverage w/Bailey talks. I kind of look at this like Alec Baldwin in "The Cooler", where you have a party stuck way behind the times and unwilling to embrace the fact that things aren't like they used to be.

    The problem, as I see it, is that we're trying to extend a political and labor model that might have worked decades ago when the tracks were crowded, but is now outdated, particularly with people embracing technology and use of the ADW and such. The labor leaders should be lobbying like hell for Christie to put a slot parlor at the Meadowlands to create some jobs, whereas instead from media reports it seems they're digging their heels in for a battle, and the jobs at the center of that ultimate battle may eventually just evaporate. What good does that do for anyone really?

    In the end, I don't mean to go on a diatribe about or bash the labor movement, I just think that, once again, the customer of the product is the one that gets screwed in the end.