LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With days away until the 147th Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs, several of the track’s essential workers took to the streets demanding fair wages.
Churchill Downs racetrack valets, who saddle the horses and prepare them for each race, and members of union SIEU Local 541 gathered outside the racetrack Saturday evening.
Members state that while the racetrack brought in over $1 billion in revenue over the past year, valets have been working under expired contracts and Churchill Downs has canceled negotiations Thursday for a new, fair-wage contract for the workers.
Union Attorney David Suetholz argues that the valets are underpaid and don’t get the benefits they deserve, working 70 days out of the year and being forced to travel and work at different racetracks to make a living.
“We’re asking the members of our community, who are essential to horse racing, look at what the valets do. They make sure there are safe and compliant races, and they have worked on these tracks for decades,” Suetholz said. “We’re asking for just a semblance of justice.”
Suetholz said the contract request would only cost Churchill Downs $27,000 a year.