Yosemite contract renewal sparks job loss fears

The Fresno BeeMay 13, 2014 

Concession employees in Yosemite National Park held a rally in front of the visitor's center on Tuesday to call for job and wage security before the park service seeks proposals on a new vendor contract this summer.

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resort has operated Yosemite's hospitality, food and beverage services since 1993.

The company had a 15-year contract that was extended twice over the years, said Scott Gediman, parks spokesman.

But that agreement is set to expire next year and the National Park Service is putting the contract out to bid.

Workers are asking the park service to include language in the contract to ensure that longtime employees be able to keep their jobs and maintain their wages if a new company is picked.

"We have workers who have been in the park 25 years and 40 years, predating the current concessionaire," said Sarah McDermott, a research analyst with Unite Here Local 19, the union representing concession workers. "For these people, Yosemite is their home and community and they want to keep their jobs and benefits."

Yosemite has the park service's largest concession contract that like many standard agreements comes up for renewal as times and companies change, Gediman said. He declined to comment about the jobs.

Delaware North is the park's primary concessionaire employing nearly 1,500 people at the peak of tourism season as cooks, servers, housekeepers, cashiers and tour guides.

More than 100 people attended Tuesday's rally, including Mark Deger who has worked in Yosemite since 1989. He is a waiter at the Ahwahnee Hotel and is a volunteer firefighter and logistics person. He and his wife raised three children in El Portal.

"There's nothing to say that current employees are going to still be employees," Deger said. "As longtime community members and parents, we need assurances. I have three kids in college right now. I need to know that I have income coming in."

Deger said there was language in the 1993 contract that helped employees retain their jobs when Delaware North came in. This time around there has been no discussion about the new contract, he said.

"There's something about the continuity of service," Deger said. "If you take people that have been doing a job for a long time and doing it well and replace them with new people, what is that service going to look like? We are Yosemite."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6495, blee@fresnobee.com or @bonhialee on Twitter.

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