Delaware North places workers on en masse leave


Delaware North banner Image: Delaware North-Uniland

Delaware North – the global hospitality major headquartered in Buffalo, New York (US) – is placing most of its full-time workers on leave as the hospitality giant suffers severe blow to its business caused by the coronavirus plague.

Recently, the company sent out a statement saying that it is sending on temporary leave more than two-thirds of its 3,100 full-time employees.

As per a statement released by Delaware North, the workers will receive one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits. The move took effect from April 1, 2020.

The company also urged those employees who have been sent on leave to apply for unemployment benefits.

The statement further informed that those full-time workers who will continue to work will do so at a reduced rate of pay which has not been specified by the company. The company has several hundreds of workers on its rolls at its global headquarters in Delaware Avenue.

Spokesman of the company Glen A White informed that the pay cuts also apply to the top guns of the company – which includes co-CEOs Jerry Jacobs Jr and Lou Jacobs and their brother, Charlie, CEO of the company’s holdings in Boston. White did not specify whether the company will continue to make any regular monetary distributions to members of the Jacobs family.

The vast majority of the company’s roughly 57,000 employees are either part-time or seasonal and for the most part they are no longer being scheduled for work as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc into every sector of Delaware North’s business empire.

The company sent out a statement saying that, “Delaware North is taking these temporary steps to ensure the company’s long-term success. The Jacobs family and Delaware North hope the crisis will be short-lived and greatly appreciate the talented and passionate employees who have made the company successful and hope they remain healthy and safe.”

Few companies in Western New York are likely to cringe more from the coronavirus outbreak than Delaware North.

The Jacobs family is running the firm for more than 100 years and enjoys an annual sale of $3.7 billion, much of it driven by revenue from concession sales at sports stadiums, airports and national parks and from the operation of casinos and hotels. All are almost falling to pieces due to Covid-19 closings and cancellations.

The company further said in the statement, “The spread of Covid-19 has forced the closure of nearly every one of Delaware North’s more than 200 operating locations in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia – including sports and entertainment venues, restaurants, casinos and parks. Our airport locations are continuing to operate, but only at a greatly reduced scale.”

The company said it responded swiftly to the coronavirus outbreak by restricting business travel and postponing few ongoing projects. White did not identify which projects the hospitality giant is putting the brakes on. But, the firm said it still is absorbing ongoing financial losses.

Delaware North termed the employee leave as temporary. White said the workers would be brought back on a phased-in basis once the business environment improves and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Delaware North’s head office is located at 250 Delaware Avenue from where it runs the 116-room Westin Buffalo Hotel. The company closed the hotel recently although it still is running its to-go service from Jake’s Cafe.

Jeremy Jacobs, the billionaire owner of Delaware North, also owns the National Hockey League (NHL’s) Boston Bruins. The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, US.

The Bruins recently sent out a statement saying that the team had set up a $1.5 million fund to help employees affected by the NHL shutdown.

However, payments hinge on the cancellation of the remaining six Bruins home games. The Bruins were the last NHL team to reveal any plan to help their workers.

Delaware North also issued a separate statement recently spelling out the details of what it’s doing with its employees for the Bruins and at TD Garden, the arena which is owned by the company.

TD Garden, often called The Garden, is a multipurpose arena in Boston, Massachusetts in US.

The company, effective April 1, is placing 68 full-time salaried workers on temporary leave and cutting the pay of 82 remaining salaried full-time workers.

TD Garden

The TD Garden workers have received double blow. The workers who are already left in the financial lurch for missed Bruins and Celtics games have now also been handed out the pink slips.

The Garden and the Bruins delivered the news to hundreds of part-time ushers, a move made in response to the COVID-19 scourge that has shut down the NHL and the National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as nearly all professional sports leagues.

In a letter pertaining to the ‘Operational Impact of Coronavirus’, the part-time workforce was told it “will not be scheduled until the conditions at our unit allows us to resume normal operations. As this situation is rapidly evolving, we will continue to update you with the anticipated date that we will resume business.”

“It leaves me nowhere — I can’t go to the unemployment office, I have a pension, I have other income, but there are other people that this is what they do — they work every Bruins game, every Celtics game, every concert, every everything that shows up. Most of the guys I work with all have a day job — I work with people from the post office, I work with firemen, and most have day jobs, and this is a part-time job, supplementary income, I don’t see what we’re going to get for unemployment. It’s kind of an empty letter.” said the part-time usher on condition of anonymity out of concern for their job security.

A TD Garden Bruins spokesperson said, “The unprecedented reality of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact to our business unfortunately resulted in us placing some of our Bruins and TD Garden full-time hourly associates on temporary leave. This decision was difficult, and we hope this situation is temporary.”

The reason for the layoffs, the letter to employees stated, was that “the coronavirus has had significant implications across all of Delaware North’s lines of business, including at your unit. All the major sports leagues suspended their seasons, Governments are requiring closures and reduction of capacity at certain venues, tourism has declined, events have been canceled, and more people are simply staying home. Due to this, the company has no choice but to ensure that we are appropriately staffed.”

The letter expressed the hope that “these changes are short-lived. We are committed to returning all our associates to active duty as soon as possible. Please understand that this is a constantly evolving situation and subject to change.”

Presently, the US has become the COVID-19 hotspot with latest figures showing 400,540 coronavirus cases and 12,857 deaths.

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