Striking track employees voted 455 to 40 tonight to reject a three-year contract offered by Pimlico, Bowie and Laurel.
On March 1 the employees voted 130 to 33 to turn down a two-year contract, thus authorizing a strike by Local 692, Retail Store Employees Union. The strike began March 12 at Bowie and has continued through the Pimlico meeting scheduled to start March 21.
The track originally offered $2.50 and $1.25 a day increases, later increased their proposal to $2.50, $2 and $2. Local president Al Akman is seeking a three-year pact totaling $9.73.
"Tonight's vote shows how this is a people's strike," Akman declared. "The workers don't want much, but they do want a little. They want some fringe benefits, and they're willing to stay out until they get them.After this vote there shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's mind about that."
The tracks contended the current work stoppage was "Akman's strike" and charged he had not permitted union members to vote on their improved wage proposal.
Attention now will turn to a public hearing by the State Racing Commission today in its offices at 701 St. Paul Street. Track executives and union leaders will attend. Akman believes the commission can solve the negotiating problems.
"Oh boy, do I?" he remarked tonight after the locals one-sided vote count was announced. "It all depends on what they want to do. Newtie Brewer (commission chairman) is the most important man in this thing right now. He has control of several money items.
"If anybody can help settle this strike, Brewer can," Akman emphasized. "That's if he wants to. He's been very patient, up to this point, but I don't believe he's going to be patient after tomorrow."
Akman was referring to the commissions power to approve increases in the price of admissions, programs, parking, reserved seats, etc., should such increases be requested by the tracks to generate revenue to cover increased costs.
Pimlico officials in tend to "take our case to the employees" if there is no change in the strike situation by Wednesday. Indications are the local course will attempt to run later this week, despite union picket lines.
Pimlico has set April 15-18 as a deadline for a decision regarding the Preakness Stakes. The middle event in the Triple Crown series will be transferred to New York, if Pimlico does not open.
"The Preakness is in the hands of the employers," Akman declared. "The employees certainly hope everything is settled in time to keep the race here."