Thursday, August 10, 2000

Bengals, usher reps set to talk

Union seeks jobs back

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Howard Percell remembers the days when he showed folks to their seats at Crosley Field for a quarter a game.

        Fifty-two years later, the Delhi Township man was looking forward to showing new fans to new seats at the new Paul Brown Stadium for $30.50 a game.

        That was in jeopardy last week when the Bengals fired all 100 of their ushers and 50 ticket takers before entering into a contract with Contemporary Services Corp. (CSC) to fill those positions.

        After the Cincinnati AFL-CIO threatened to file an unfair labor practice lawsuit, the Bengals have agreed to enter into negotiations with the union that may bring Mr. Percell and his colleagues back.

        “I hate to see this,” said Mr. Percell, 78. “I've worked at the stadiums around here since Crosley, and there's never been any trouble.”

        When asked whether he thought he'd get his job back, Mr. Percell hesitated.

        “If Paul was alive, I'd say yes,” he said, referring to the founder of the Bengals, Paul Brown. “Without him, I'm not sure.”

        Getting those 150 jobs back is the goal of Dan Radford, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

        “That's what we're going in for,” Mr. Radford said. “There will be discussions about wages, hours and working conditions. But getting the jobs back is the big thing.”

        Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan couldn't say how many of those jobs have already been filled by CSC.

        He said the team has always encouraged those who lost jobs to apply with the new company.

        That doesn't sit well with Harold Heitz, 87, of North College Hill.

        Mr. Heitz said he's not slowing down and wants to keep working at a job that allows him to get out and be around friendly people.

        “I want to keep doing it as long as I can do a good job,” Mr. Heitz said.

        George Curtin, a field representative for the national AFL-CIO, said it is ironic that Bengals owner Mike Brown seeks loyalty from his players and fans, but is unwilling to give it in return.

        “This isn't about money,” Mr. Curtin said.

Stadium adds $1.2M in costs

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