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Dodger Stadium Tour Guides Vote to Unionize

Dodger Stadium Tour Guides Vote to Unionize


As the Dodgers’ first year with Shohei Ohtani brings a new wave of fans to Vin Scully Avenue, tour guides at the nearly 62-year-old stadium have voted to unionize. 

During a National Labor Relations Board election on Tuesday afternoon, 18 tour guides voted “yes” to unionize and 12 voted against. As a result, pending NLRB certification of the election results, a group of nearly 40 tour guides, tour leads and one plant data collector (a.k.a. the guide of the stadium’s “garden tour”) will join IATSE B-192, a growing Local that represents fellow tour guides at Universal Studios Hollywood and ushers at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Since the Dodger Stadium group went public with their unionization drive, more tour guides have been hired and will ultimately be included in the union, according IATSE B-192.

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to the Dodgers for comment.

Responsible for leading the wide array of tours that the stadium now offers — from basic stadium tours to pregame tours to Jackie Robinson and “Fernandomania” (devoted to Fernando Valenzuela) tours, with offerings in English, Spanish and Japanese — the tour guides work year-round, typically as part-timers.

The logo for the Dodgers’ union.

Courtesy

Security concerns were a top motivator for the group, says IATSE Local B-192 secretary/treasurer Cat Hutchinson, who has led Dodger Stadium tours for 10 years. There are no security screenings for tour groups except for those taking pre-game tours, according to Hutchinson. And while this situation has concerned tour guides for some time, a recent influx of patrons has exacerbated fears. Ever since the Dodgers’ $700 million, 10-year deal — the biggest in North American pro sports history — was announced with star two-way player Ohtani, an average basic stadium tour in the spring has hovered around 40 to 60 people, says Hutchinson, while tour guides are responsible for providing both a positive guest experience and making sure that the groups keep clear of players and participants don’t wander off into the stadium and present security risks.

“We did have a guest actually hide in the stadium, [they] ran off from a tour and it was security issue,” says Hutchinson. (After that incident, the group told a manager they felt unsafe and the manager suggested that the tour guides could themselves enforce a clear-bag policy, which the group did not believe was their job, per Hutchinson.)

The group is also seeking raises: Currently, tour guides get paid L.A. City minimum wage, or $16.78 an hour, while tour leads are paid $18 an hour. Other unionized staffers at the stadium have higher minimum rates, says Hutchinson. Major hospitality union UNITE HERE Local 11, for instance, represents concessions workers. In its 2022 contract negotiation, that union combined minimum guaranteed hourly tips with wages so that concessions stand employees could make $30.94 an hour.

“When I first started, I knew going in it was a minimum wage job, but it was kind of like, okay, cool, I’ll work for the dog one or two days a week and for the perks,” Hutchinson says. “The culture has definitely changed over the last few years. It’s definitely a mix of older and younger guides, but I think now a lot of our younger guides are like, ‘This has been a source of my income and I’m trying to survive and work other jobs as well in addition.’ ”

In a union contract, the group is hoping to boost wages, address security concerns, institute policies on last-minute shift cancellations and provide premium pay to tour guides who work on foreign-language tours. (The number of Japanese-language tours has ballooned since the Ohtani announcement, per Hutchinson.)

“The demand is incredible,” Hutchinson says of the tours. It’s a phenomenon that doesn’t seem likely to end soon: With the Dodgers’ domestic season less than a week old, already the team is leading Major League Baseball in overall attendance. “And I think we are allowed to have some dignity with our pay and our rights and being heard.”



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