Churchill Downs’ Proposed Service Employee Contract Unanimously Rejected by SEIU Local 541

Apr 22, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Representatives of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 541 racetrack employees’ union, assisted by Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (BS&J), have rejected Churchill Downs’ proposed three-year contract for its Valets service employees. The Valets, represented by Local 541, met today and unanimously voted against the contract presented by the track.

“Local 541 demands that Churchill Downs resolve its open contracts at both the Louisville and Turfway Park racetracks with terms that reflect the value these workers bring to successful and prosperous horse races in Kentucky,” said union attorney David O’Brien Suetholz of BS&J. “Local 541 calls on Churchill Downs to demonstrate its appreciation for long-time employees, who ensure safe and equitable horse races at its tracks in Kentucky.”

The union seeks the equivalent of approximately $20 per hour, along with pension contributions of less than $1,000 per year at both track locations. The Valets assert that their demands for secure and safe jobs with minimum staffing, living wages and a retirement that honors their years of service can easily be met by Churchill Downs.

“Churchill Downs’ proposal for no wage increases for the Valets in the first year of the contract, and absolutely zero increases to their pension contributions over the term of the contract, is insulting and a reflection of corporate greed at its worst,” said Don Vest, union president. “We know the company’s revenues soared last year. Churchill Downs profits from horse races no matter where they are run, so it follows that labor costs should be fixed for Valets under contracts in Kentucky.”