Cedar Point workers strike, park says it's unlawful

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 9:05 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Contract talks broke down on Friday, according to striking workers in the Local 480 Laborers union out on the picket against Cedar Point. The park says that it accepted an agreement proposed by the union.

Read about the strike and the response from the park from The Sandusky Register.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:15 PM

Good for them! And people have asked me why I refuse to work for a Cedar Fair park. This is why, they are cheap to the actual workers. Guests wonder why the workers appear to be unhappy and not so cheery, this is one reason why...low pay.

You get what you pay for.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:31 PM
Vater's avatar

I'd be interested to know what Six Flags pays compared to Cedar Fair for the same jobs.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:37 PM

Six Flags should pay more because their employees work in worse weather.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:47 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm pretty annoyed with the union statement about how execs get raises and shareholders get a bigger distribution. Yeah, because they've been careful and skillful at growing the business. My understanding is that the trades do OK, and living in a place like Sandusky with insanely low cost of living is comfortable. The supply/demand curve also favors the company, because there is no shortage of people that want to work for a theme park. There are "lifers" in that business that don't seem to understand that.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 3:17 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar

JECmodels said:

Good for them!

You get what you pay for.

Did you ready the second article? The union reps proposed terms, cedar point accepted, then the union members voted it down. How is this Cedar Point's fault?

Maybe instead of picketing, they should be looking for new leadership.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:33 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

^^^^^^ That's how labor negotiations work. The Union Reps and the company negotiate a Tentative Agreement, or TA, and it goes to the members to vote. The union members are free to vote it in or reject it.

While the company's statement in the 2nd article is extremely wordy and confusing, it sounds like this is exactly what happened, a TA was reached between the 2 negotiating teams, and the union members voted it down. So back to the table it goes.

And Jeff, the cost of living in Sandusky? Really? Where someone lives is no concern to anyone but themselves as long as they make it to work for their scheduled shift. Have you been through Sandusky other than into/out of Cedar Point and Chet and Matts? (rhetorical, I'm sure you have.) The majority of the town is an absolute $#!! hole, much of it giving the poorest parts of Cleveland and Lorain a good run for it's money. Perhaps a raise is needed so they don't have to endure the "low cost of living in Sandusky."

Yeah, I know, me defending union members is nothing new here on CB, (because I am one myself) but I stand with these guys, figuratively of course.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:35 PM
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:34 PM

If the members didn't like it then they didn't like it. It doesn't matter who proposed what or who accepted what. They may wind up being sorry about it, as sometimes that happens in cases like this, but they have the right not to accept or ratify.

Edit to add: Tommy and I overlapped. I was also a union man for my 33+ years on the job, and suffered through many contract negotiations as well as sometimes lengthy job actions. Nobody benefits.
And the company's standpoint is always that they're doing their workers some big fat favor and that's never the case. Ever.
I have to gripe at those who say workers get by on "enough", whatever that is. I don't know of many who felt they weren't entitled to or couldn't use a raise in salary and benefits.

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:41 PM
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 7:23 PM

^^Tommytheduck, that is not what happened here. There was no negotiating, the park unilaterally accepted the union leaderships offer. The offer was presented to Cedar Fair as being already approved by the union members. By presenting an offer to Cedar Fair that was not acceptable by the union members, the union leadership was negotiating in bad faith. This places Cedar Fair in a very comfortable legal position. By negotiating in bad faith, the union is opening up the possibility that Cedar Fair will be able to hire workers outside of the union, or even the remote possibility the union could be dissolved. (In the latter case the members could vote to join or form a different or new union.)

As Jeff points out, there are a lot of people who want to work for an amusement park. There is a lot of prestige to the job, your job cannot be relocated overseas, and a well established park is unlikely to go out of business on you. Just remember, in a free market system, you get paid based on the value you give your employer, not on how hard you work. Needless to say, harder working employees usually are more valuable, but supply and demand plays an important role.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 7:24 PM
Jeff's avatar

Tommytheduck said:

And Jeff, the cost of living in Sandusky? Really?

Really. Even the nice big McMansions over 2k sq. ft. are averaging $80/sq. ft. That's insanely low, even compared to the Cleveland suburbs.

Look, if you want to work at an amusement park, there are people lined up outside of the door who will take those jobs. If you don't want to do it for the wage offered, there are plenty of people who do. Now, if they're having a problem retaining the best workers, sure, I could see why it matters, but I doubt very much that's the case.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 10:23 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

Jscll, as I said in my post, I found the Company's statement difficult to follow. If that's what happened, I was unaware that Union leadership could present a proposal without the approval of the members. Sounds like a mess.

Jeff, the point I was trying to make about cost of living was not how cheap the housing is. You provided a good example. My point is you shouldn't be able to tell someone "You deserve to make less because you live in a cheap house." (Am I putting words in your mouth? That's how I read your statement.) Heck, if I like to eat spaghetti and sandwiches at home, (I do,) should I make less than someone who likes to eat steak?" A wage is a wage, no matter how little I pay in rent or no matter how much my spouse earns at their job. I understand that some areas like NY, CA, etc do factor *high* costs of living into account, but I've never heard of low costs being factored in.

As for supply and demand, I totally get it. I have no counterpoint to make here other than there are benefits to retaining a senior staff with years of experience, but unfortunately, cost isn't one of them. If I were a mechanic, I'd absolutely love to work at CP, or any park. Perhaps the thrill of strapping in and climbing MF's structure every day is rewarding, but at the end of the day if it doesn't put enough food on the table, or move my family far away from the worst neighborhoods of Sandumpsky, then I, and others, will be forced to move on. (For another to take my place... yeah, I know.)

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Tuesday, November 8, 2016 10:25 PM
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016 12:06 AM
Jeff's avatar

You can pretend that cost of living doesn't matter, but it absolutely does. I would love to make Seattle money, but I live in Orlando. It's not about what's deserved, it's about what the local market demands.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016 2:28 PM

Tommytheduck said:

Have you been through Sandusky other than into/out of Cedar Point and Chet and Matts? (rhetorical, I'm sure you have.) The majority of the town is an absolute $#!! hole, much of it giving the poorest parts of Cleveland and Lorain a good run for it's money. Perhaps a raise is needed so they don't have to endure the "low cost of living in Sandusky."

I call bull. Most of Sandusky is NOT a $#!! hole. Far from it. There are a couple of pocket neighborhoods around 1st and Meigs that are rough by Ohio standards but most of Sandusky is actually very pleasant (and I did live there...in town...for 4 years). I never once felt unsafe in Sandusky and even drove through the "rough" end of town during the day with no concerns. I've lived in multiple places around the country and Sandusky was one of my favorites. The only downside, having lived lots of places, is that it was a "sleepy town".

You can get a lot of house for your money in Sandusky and there are plenty of good schools to choose from there and in nearby Perkins Township. I've been gone from Sandusky now for almost 20 years but we still have family there and visit multiple times per year. The downtown area has come alive, the waterfront is being revitalized, and even the infrastructure is being improved (though that is slow, granted).

Cost of living and quality of life are the two things of greatest concern to me right now as I contemplate where I would want to go next. Salary plays a part, of course, but in my profession it is almost assured that I will take a pay cut if I choose to leave South Florida and I'm perfectly fine with that given some of the other measurements I want to consider.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016 7:26 PM

Tommytheduck said:

I was unaware that Union leadership could present a proposal without the approval of the members.

The Union leadership can make whatever proposal they want, but they cannot present a proposal on behalf of their members unless their members authorize it. When Cedar Fair sat down at the negotiating table, it was under the pretense that the union officials offer was already approved by the union members.

The reason you may find the statement issued by Cedar Fair difficult to follow is because it was written by lawyers.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016 10:16 AM
Gemini's avatar

Jeff said:

I'm pretty annoyed with the union statement about how execs get raises and shareholders get a bigger distribution.

I get what you're saying and totally agree in regards to executive compensation. At the same time, I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to bring up company profitability in negotiations. If I work for a company that has a great year, I may go to the boss to negotiate a raise and it's acceptable, as part of the justification for a raise, to say, "hey, the company's had a great year and I think I played a part in that." I don't see this is as any different, other than the negotiation in this case is collective.

Tommytheduck said:

Have you been through Sandusky other than into/out of Cedar Point and Chet and Matts? (rhetorical, I'm sure you have.) The majority of the town is an absolute $#!! hole, much of it giving the poorest parts of Cleveland and Lorain a good run for it's money.

I lived in Huron for 25 years. I know every inch of that county and you couldn't be more wrong. You've either never actually been there or you're seeing what you want to see. If it wasn't for the 60-mile commute each way, I'd still live there.

Last edited by Gemini, Thursday, November 10, 2016 10:17 AM

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Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:21 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

I agree on both counts. It always amuses me to see what people consider the "bad part of town". I'm from what was the fifth poorest county in the nation (as of the time I moved out) and the poorest non-Indian reserve county in the nation. Unless you've spent a good deal of time in those types of places, your idea of the bad side of town is usually if base.


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Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:44 AM

http://www.toledoblade.com/business/2016/11/09/Ceda-Point-union-ends-strike-gets-new-deal-from-park.html

Strike is over

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Thursday, November 10, 2016 12:10 PM

Jeff said:

Look, if you want to work at an amusement park, there are people lined up outside of the door who will take those jobs. If you don't want to do it for the wage offered, there are plenty of people who do.

Is that too broad of a statement in this case? For sweeps, ride operators, and food stand workers I can see that being the case (although apparently CP has issues with keeping their people late in the season) but I don't know if that applies to ride mechanics. Maybe it does, but that seems like a more specialized job that would have a much lower labor pool to draw from.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016 1:57 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

I have several friends that grew up in Sandusky - I've spent a LOT of time up there outside of CP, and I agree, it's definitely not a bad spot.

There are some serious "Mansions" there - not McMansions, but actual, historical homes that you can definitely tell are from old money. I remember staying at their houses in one of their many spare bedrooms - usually the old servant's quarters. It's amazing, those old galley kitchens with a small door way that leads to a narrow stair case, up to a small (but still fairly ornate) bathroom and a large bedroom. Makes you wonder who lived there when it was new.


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Friday, November 11, 2016 8:44 AM
Jeff's avatar

Gemini said:
I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to bring up company profitability in negotiations. If I work for a company that has a great year, I may go to the boss to negotiate a raise and it's acceptable, as part of the justification for a raise, to say, "hey, the company's had a great year and I think I played a part in that."

I would tend to agree with that to an extent, but the issue is that there are no takebacks. Executive compensation is typically very bonus or goal based, and fluctuates. Dividends (or distribution) can also be scaled for results. When unions pressure for higher salaries, and the the fiscal scene changes, there's no putting that animal back in the cage. It always leads to layoffs, or an ask to take a pay cut that no one ever accepts. The industry is not recession-proof, as we've seen the last decade or so. As a union, you have to be careful what you wish for.

In technology jobs, where we don't have unions, we tend to seek solid salaries supplemented by performance and event-based compensation. Things like profit sharing and bonuses go a long way toward feeling a part of success or failure. There's more risk associated with that, and it isn't cash spread out weekly, but I think it's fair. If I were in a union, I would seek out that kind of arrangement.

Shades said:
Is that too broad of a statement in this case? ...I don't know if that applies to ride mechanics. Maybe it does, but that seems like a more specialized job that would have a much lower labor pool to draw from.

It's absolutely true. I have met so many people over the years that started as seasonals, managed to get well placed enough to learn the jobs, and waited a long time for jobs that never came. The trades are trades, and not particularly unique at Cedar Point outside of the fact that they're at Cedar Point. I'll concede that ride mechanics are definitely a bit more specialized, but also something that mentoring will train new people for.


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