Photo Credit: © Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

True North Fails Miserably To Look After Their Own

(Editor’s note: It took four days from the time it was announced that the season was suspended, and they seemingly doubled down on their commitment a second time, and the Jets were the second last team in Canada to do so, but TNSE did announce that they will support casual and part time employees late Sunday afternoon. This posted article will remain published as a record of the first awful steps TNSE took in looking after their employees.)

One of the biggest questions to come out of the NHL suspending the 2019-20 season was how was the NHL going to handle player salaries while on hiatus. In previous work-stoppages, players weren’t paid, but that was always due to the stoppages being labor related (player strike or owner lockout). The NHL is widely known as a ‘gate driven league’ and would owners balk at the idea of paying millions in dollars of player salary as they sat at home and no revenue from fans being generated?

That question was answered relatively quickly…

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Oh good, the players who have already made hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars are being taken care of. Good to know.

Now what about the part-time arena workers who not only work Jets games, but also Manitoba Moose games as well as various shows and concerts at Bell MTS Place – around 1,200 of them – who in their entire life would never come close to matching the amount an NHL player makes in a single year, and that depend on their job as a ticket scanner or a concession stand worker as a way to make ends meet?

“They work when we work”

In other words: “We don’t need them right now, so they don’t get paid.”

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What an unbelievably cold and callus dismissal to express in an unprecedented time of stress and concern.

Especially mere moments after stating that the players would get their pay.

Especially in light of other owners and organizations around pro sports stating that they would find ways to support their part-time staff. Most notably Mark Cuban of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, but the New Jersey Devils, Cleveland Cavaliers, Ted Leonsis of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, and even Canada’s other four letter acronymed sports entity MLSE stating that plans were in the works.

When you add that Forbes recently valued the Jets at $420 million with revenue of $127 million for 2019. Not to mention that the team can trace it’s ownership back to David Thomson who happens to be the richest person in Canada worth about $37.8 BILLION.

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(Mark Cuban by the way is only worth a reported $3.9 billion. Ted Leonsis is worth $1.1 billion.)

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The news is even more maddening when you consider that just last year TNSE reportedly received $14.8 million from the province of Manitoba in tax breaks, subsides and assistance.

Even if TNSE spared $750,000 for it’s 1,200 part time workers, that would come to $625 per person… Not quite enough to match what a person that would have worked the final 10 games of the Jets and Moose home schedules, but it at least would have been something.

It’s easy for Mark Chipman to state that “the work will eventually come” meaning that at some point things should return back to normal, work will resume and the part-time workers will be able to earn money again. The problem is, no one knows when that will be. Both the NBA and MLS have stated that they are initially looking at a 30 day period of inactivity. MLB is delaying the start of the regular season by two weeks which puts it into mid-April which is more than 30 days. Shows and concerts that have been scheduled for Winnipeg are being postponed until later in the year if not canceled.

Maybe in 30 to 45 days, we’ll have hockey back, but that’s a very hopeful if not far-fetched forecast. In the meantime, bills and payments will come and they will do so well before Bell MTS Place resumes normal activities. Some of the 1,200 part-timers will now have difficult decisions to make and at the very least are in sudden scramble mode to try and pay those incoming bills. A week ago, no one really saw this coming making it unlike any other work stoppage or job loss imaginable. Part time workers have had very little chance to prepare and plan for a sudden loss of income.

TNSE’s decision to not help it’s part time employees in an unprecedented time of crisis with a worldwide pandemic is colder and more harsh than any mid-February wind blowing through Portage and Main.