A group of Super Bowl 50 workers have sued Levi’s Stadium concessionaire Centerplate for labor law violations, charging that they were illegally denied required pay and rest breaks during the game. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw lead plaintiff Gabriel Thompson’s writeup of his Super Bowl hot-dog-vending experience in Slate (with the help of a grant from the Nation Investigative Fund — hi, Esther!):
I swipe my card at 8:36 a.m. I am now on the clock, more than 90 minutes after I arrived to catch the shuttle. This unpaid time is likely illegal: In 2000, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers who require workers to travel in company vehicles must be paid from the time they were told to arrive at the departure point…
[After the game,] thousands of workers are shuffling slowly along a path that follows alongside a tennis court, passes over a small bridge and finally spills out onto a road, where two buses idle. It takes me seven minutes to make my way to the end of the line; by that time it has stopped completely. We all wait for another 20 minutes, without moving. More workers join, and the line becomes tighter and hotter. Many people have been on their feet since 4 a.m., and we are packed so closely that sitting down is impossible. One woman starts sobbing.
Another hour passes. We’ve moved about two hundred feet. “There’s gonna be a riot here!” someone yells. It certainly feels possible. A chant breaks out: “We want to go home! We want to go home!” The crowd gets even tighter and pushier. At one point, a group next to me tries to shove its way through, but there’s nowhere to go, and they only succeed in knocking a few people to the ground. A second woman breaks down into tears and is escorted out. It’s now 11 p.m. The urge to sit has become overwhelming. Two groups of men have somehow decided they ought to fight each other, but it’s too crowded even to do that. I end up next to a temp from Culinary Staffing America, who, like me, has already clocked out and so likely won’t be paid for this time. Others nearby, direct employees of Levi’s Stadium, are incredulous when we tell them that. They’ve been instructed to clock out after they reach Avaya Stadium.
The two takeaways here: The bulk of the jobs created by the presence of a Super Bowl (such that it really creates any at all) are exceptionally crappy ones; and crappy jobs in the 21st century U.S. are exceptionally crappy indeed. One of Thompson’s co-workers in Santa Clara was a woman who earned $11 an hour through a temp agency and “was living in a storage unit in a San Jose trailer park.” America!