For years, the day laborers who clean up Camden Yards after Orioles games had been asking for a pay raise. They wanted a be paid the so-called living wage. Yesterday, they got what they were asking for: The Maryland Stadium Authority, a state agency that operates Camden Yards, voted to pay the cleaners $11.30 an hour beginning next season.
The United Workers Association, the Baltimore organization, pressed O’s owner Peter Angelos and state and local officials to get the wage hike. They thought they’d secured the desired raise in 2004, when Angelos told UWA officials that he’d use his own money to make up the difference between what the company with the cleaning contract paid the workersan average of less than $7 an hourand the living wage.
When Angelos didn’t follow through on that pledge, the workers and their advocates tried various tactics to force the issue. They tried pre-game picketing outside the stadium where they clean. They chased Angelos around town at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. They held a candlelight vigil on stadium grounds. No luck. Then, earlier this summer, the workers and their advocates declared they would go on a hunger strike beginning this week. That announcement brought out some haters.
But, just as the laborer crowd was going to stop eating, things started going their way. Governor Martin O’Malley said over the weekend that he was in favor of a living wage for the cleanup crews. Frederick W. Puddester, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said he thought the workers should get the same living wage that contract workers at other state facilities receive. The MSA board acted on the chair’s words on Thursday, approving the wage increase by a 5-2 vote.
Eat up, folks.