This was probably inevitable.
Back in the Spring, the Flyers and Sixers were able to help out their Wells Fargo Center game night and part time staff members, who suddenly found themselves out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of food and service workers found themselves in a different situation, since they weren’t employed by Comcast or by Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment. They were Aramark employees, key word “were,” because the Philadelphia-headquartered company is now undergoing a massive round of layoffs as the stadium concessions business continues to suffer.
According to recent filings from the company with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the layoffs affect 2,000 Aramark staff members in Philadelphia: 1,080 workers at Citizens Bank Park, 721 at Wells Fargo Center, and 199 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
On the other side of the state, an additional 1,225 Aramark workers will be laid off at Pittsburgh-area venues: 599 people at PNC Park and 626 employees at the multi-purpose indoor PPG Paints Arena.
Smythe also notes that about 300 Aramark employees at La Salle and Drexel also were laid off.
The layoffs are reported as being temporary, according to the WARN notification filed with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. WARN is the “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act,” which became law in 1989 and requires employers to give a heads up when they plan to close plants or implement mass layoffs.
We tried to contact Aramark multiple times in March and April with no luck. Other media folks tell me that Aramark never responds to anything, so that non-interaction would seem to be par for the course. We had some employees email Crossing Broad and express their displeasure with the situation, noting that they felt like they were left in the dark and didn’t get any kind of realistic communication from the company, no real plan or outlook moving forward.
Back then, Unite Here Local 274, the union representing those workers, shared a letter from city council addressed to executives with the Sixers, Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies, asking them if they would “work cooperatively” with Aramark to help keep them afloat. That was somewhat of a Hail Mary at the time, because the sports teams had to be responsible for their own employees first.
Keep in mind, Aramark employs 280,000 people and operates in 19 countries, according to them. They are a HUGE organization representing an industry that was totally crushed during the pandemic, which makes the situation incredibly difficult. This isn’t the same as HBSE and Comcast propping up a small number of hourly employees who work at one arena in one city.
Thing is, Aramark is headquartered in Philadelphia, and as such, you could argue that they have a responsibility to this community or the workers employed in this city. They could at least communicate their plan or speak to the media or act like they give a shit. (They also got tax breaks when they moved to 2400 Market, which you can read about at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Business Journal.)
Is it disappointing, these layoffs? Absolutely.
Is it surprising? No, not at all, and that’s the sad reality of COVID-19.