Meadowlands Tellers Refuse Pay Cut

Published: April 14, 2011 07:52 pm EDT

Reports from New Jersey indicate that tellers at The Meadowlands Racetrack rejected a 20 per cent pay cut proposal, possibly sealing the fate of the harness racing oval


According to Asbury Park Press reporter Bob Jordan, the security guards union voted overwhelmingly in favour of the concessions on Thursday night but the tellers would not even vote, forcing an ominous Friday showdown with prospective investor Jeff Gural and Gov. Chris Christie.

Gural has repeatedly stated that the Meadowlands deal hinged on a new agreement with the unions before Friday's deadline.

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Did I miss something or are the horsepeople backing Mr. Gural with a STRONG show or have they turned off the lights and left the building already?

I can't beleive a teller impass will bring down the cornerstone racetrack, that is such bull#$%&, put in self tellers and call it a day, sorry people but there are other peoples jobs on the line here too. Bring it to Ontario, we could use a worldclass facility with worldclass racing, action in the first quarter doesn't count as exciting.

As far as the gaming, I didn't hear Rama cry when Georgian went in so my opinion is the state, as many others just plain don't want any kind of horseracing. I hope that really isn't the case.

So what peice of history do we let go next The Red Mile, Delaware?

There is a great article on the USTA site by Bob Carson called Outside The Box. There are a lot of great ideas in the article, some of which have been mentioned by various people over the last year or so on this site and some already in place at little racetrack in Ontario. It's time to get serious and try some of these ideas instead of having committee's sit in boardrooms and brainstorm, you already have what you need, if you are serious about saving the sport start putting it into action, whoever makes these type of calls. Trying something is better than doing nothing.

Maybe we should start yet another committee to decide if we need more committees or associations that seem to do absolutely nothing, or are they powerless to do anything?

Greg Parke

I don't blame the tellers one bit, it is easy for us to sit back and to say a 20% pay cut is better then losing your job but these people probably already struggle to pay there bills and a pay cut is the final nail in there coffin anyway, so they choose instead to roll the dice and take there chances. I blame the race game 100% and not one bit less. For the last 20 years all they do is whine and look for handouts, refusing to make any real changes and compete for business by lowering takeout. There new solution seems to be to offer guaranteed pools which does nothing for the gambler and will fool no one long term. The race game is getting exactly what they deserve. The won't compete for business therefore they do not deserve to stay in business and guess what they won't.

The point we are all missing here ....... is that the tellers refused to vote. One of our basic principles in life was thrown against the wall. Mob rule doesnt resolve situations. Have the vote then do the shouting ......

Unfortunately it seems that time may have passed by the Meadowlands.
If racing @ what once was the premier track in the USA hinges on tellers taking a 20% pay cut then they might as well close the doors and build a WalMart mall.

I absolutely agree with the tellers for refusing the pay cut. They make $30,000 per year, and to take a 20% pay cut would mean that they are only earning $24,000. That is outrageous. They need to pay for their housing, their vehicles, their food, medicine, doctors visits, etc. How can you expect harness racing to continue when the tellers, the force behind betting, which makes the money, are not making enough to afford to live.

In reply to by ckaufman

Mr. Kaufman, once they are out of work, by virtue of their own refusal to vote, where do you think they will scrape up 24,000.00/yr to live on? If they can find another job at 30,000.00, maybe they should go ahead and take it, and let someone else take their place. Their greed not only cost them their own jobs, but hundreds of others as well. Since they are basically refusing to work, are they eligible for the U.S. equivalent of unemployment insurance?

well, as an ex teller at the race track in montreal, which has been closed for almost
three years now, we took a pay cut of twenty five percent back in the late 1990's to help
the horse industry survive.the race track was privately owned until the property was sold to the goverment. the decline, or lack of horse racing interest in montreal came
when the casino opened. sadly, it was the beginning of the end of horse racing in montreal. the casino and the goverment killed the horse racing industry in montreal.i would love to see the tellers in the meadowlands lose their job. close down the meadowlands and lets see what will happen to the livelihood of these tellers. twenty percent cut is peanuts comparing to losing their jobs. no one is weeping in montreal because the track is closed, not even the tellers.

Brad, with all due respect - there is nothing to say - the industry needs(needed)action.
I think I'll buy some cows.

Ultimately the only place you will find harness racing will be on Prince Edward Island. There is no way they can take it away from us - its in the blood.

My interest in harness racing just disappeared along with the Meadowlands. It was the only harness track where it seemed every driver gave you an honest effort for your money, the races were exciting because there was actual flow (unlike on the WEG circuit), the announcer Sam McKee was awesome and made every race exciting, and there was enough money in the pools to place a large wager without killing the odds as is most often the case at the smaller b tracks. Plus it makes no sense to make a large wager at a b track especially the half milers because most of the 4 outside horses have no shot.
The WEG circuit just doesn't interest me. The racing is boring due to track configuration and so much lack of effort from the drivers and the juicers dominate anyways. Most nights you're watching a single file parade.

Thanks to the BIG M for the great memories.

With maybe the highest calibre of racing closing, the calibre doesn't go away but will be transferred to PA or Ontario....this infact may make our sport more attractive to the new viewer..Unfortunately the small guy maybe forced out..
Smart business people build when things are crashing around them.

Interesting comments, however as a bettor for alot of years, the one overriding issue is the game itself. Horses running single file around a track, horses breaking before the start and the better loses before the race starts, and the fact that handicapping is difficult becasue the game is so trip dependant leaves any new person to the game with a bad feeling.

Perhaps most of all - watching the races is dull. There is no fanfare of a Kentucky derby - and don't say the Hambo because most people have never heard of it.

No, the tellers are not to blame. Meadowlands may soon be gone, the Ohio tracks are soon to be gone, every province (except slot fueled Ontario) are watching the sport dying.

Alberta and B.C. would be happier if the buggies just went away. The handle is near zero and little to no interest.

Is all this negative? Yes. But its reality.

While watching the buggies in person is actually quite entertaining, harness racing just does not translate well in the simulcast era. A boring race doesn't bring people back.


The issue here isn't that the tellers refused to take a pay cut, but the fact that New Jersey horse racing, flats and harness, has been put in a bind by being the state without racinos surrounded by states with racinos. When all the states are placed on a level playing field, then and only then can this unfortunate development be corrected. Gural can talk about changing the model all he wants, he knows like the rest of us that the lack of slots, or a subsidy in place as a supplement for the lack of gaming devices placed at the track, is the problem. End of discussion.

In reply to by Blaine

Couldn't agree more with B-Mac, however I believe this Gural character is a sharp business man. He is building a relationship with the state senator, he with out a doubt has a strategy that would bring New Jersey to a level playing field. He's just too sharp to invest $100M and "only" make cosmetic or "minor league" changes. There is a master plan, let's hope he some how pulls this off. Can you name one hard and tried "business person" at the helm of any Standardbred track in North America? He is the key, unfortunately we may never see him given the opportunity to work his master plan.

This is so sad. There's something I'm learning as I get older - if you enjoy anything do it as much as you can because it probably won't out live you. Last year my favorite soap opera was cancelled after a 70 year run. There is almost never a decent boxing match on TV anymore (replaced by ultimate fighting). There are so many hockey teams now that I hardly ever get to see my favorite team (Habs). In this morning's paper I read that the other soap opera I watch is also being cancelled after 41 years. And now it looks like my all time favorite form of entertainment will also bite the dust. Goodbye harness racing (and probably thoroughbred racing too). Thanks for the memories.

Answer to Wayne,
I was a teller at old Garden State Park. We had a chance to take a pay cut to try to preserve our jobs. Well we didn't and you see how that worked out. Same for the tellers at the Meadowlands. We'll see how they make out after the unemployment runs out, because today is it. Over Done

What these tellers seem don't seem to understand is two things.

1) A 20% paycut is better then being unemployed.
2) It won't be long before SAMs are brought in and there will no longer be a need for 95% of the tellers. Just take a walk through Woodbine. How many tellers do you see. While I loved having the tellers around and would prefer them to SAMs the sad fact is that technology has replaced the need for tellers.

Now tell me out what is better, a 20% pay cut or option 1 or 2 above.

It will be the end of harness racing in North America if the Meadowlands closes.

Yes WEG is still around but 1) I don't believe the racing is as good (7/8 mile tracks don't produce the flow in races that the Big M did and everyone is tired of watching single file parades).

Yes, we must blame the tellers for closing the MEADOWLANDS!

It has nothing to do with a business model that has been around since the dark ages.

Nothing to do with relying on subsidies (Just so you know what this really is { a direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to a private industrial undertaking}) from the government that were supplied by groups (ATLANTIC CITY) that want the track to do anything but prosper. While using the above (same old) business practices.

Nothing to do with not cosying up to the government like the Gaming crowd to the south east. A government that uses a VETO to stop anything progressive from happening for racing.

Nothing to do with ignoring the breeding industry as it reduces the amount of horses it brings to market over the last decade due to falling overall prices.

Nothing to do with the overall (outdated) stakes programs that only a small % of the participants make a profit in. Where young, good horses, are rushed to get the money because the program demands it. Then are done when they are about to reach their prime (if they are still able) because it is some how more lucrative to collect their semen than race them??????

Nothing to do with waiting around for a machine that has flashing colored lights and shrill noises to be the savior of a once proud industry. Like it is in other states and provinces, until the governments decide they like the machines (already started in Florida with the dogs) more than the majestic horse.

All of the above could have been reorganized at any time. All wanted it to stay the same as it always had been. Things changed. The gaming industry changed dramatically.


What happens to business that does not adjust to its environment?
Some or all of the above MUST be addressed (to say nothing of the integrity of the sport, for now) for the Meadowlands to move ahead. I HOPE the new group can do it.

Nobody wants to see the Meadowlands go!
But for goodness sake DO NOT blame it on the TELLERS!!!!!

Guess they would rather collect unemployment then take a pay cut they will all be looking for jobs after that! A very sad day for Meadowlands racing!!!!

This is truly a sad day for harness racing, I always believed it had a chance to be successful, now I believe this is the end of harness racing. Yonkers becoming the feature track in the U.S.A. is like putting a square peg in a round hole. Half mile racing is ok for entry level racing, however you cannot sell this product over a half mile track.

Sure #'s are up at Yonkers with Meadowlands out, but this is a classic case of the #'s misleading reality. What is really sad is the lack of interest in this story, pages upon pages on a suspended brat, yet little to nothing on what I consider to be the # 1 story in harness racing. The masses are telling me to find a new hobby.

These union folks need to be reminded about what happened in Quebec - no job pays less than a 20% pay cut. Help these guys try to preserve and ressurect racing at the Meadowlands, or suffer for a long time!

It just doesn't make sense. Do the tellers think that shutting down the place is a win?

The state of racing is dire from the standpoint of this fan and this sure does not help.

The tellers are going to determine whether the Meadowlands survives ? That is the most ridiculous story/excuse I think I have ever seen. I would like to share another ridiculous story with you all. About a month, month and a half ago, I was trying to contact several harness tracks to get information on advertising some handicapping materials in their live programs. 3 tracks that I was originally interested in were Pompano, Northfield, and the Meadowlands. Phone numbers listed on websites that I called went to different departments or were not answered at all. Pompano was the weirdest and funniest of all. At least they had a program info # , but when you called it you got a tough guy at one of the guard shacks who couldn't answer any questions. I tried calling the handicappers #'s figuring they were there so much , that they might at least answer the phone, but no luck for me. Finally in addition to sending email, I left voice mail with upper level track management requesting a callback with advertising info and I have yet to hear a peep out of anyone. Same story with Northfield and the Meadowlands. Nobody and I mean nobody returned my email or phone requests. Harness tracks are being run by no one if that makes any sense. But thats how I see it. 10 more years and the sport is history

Lets see Mr. Colbert. First a concession of 20% this year then more next year. I wonder do the tellers rent or mortgage payments decrease, does the cost of gas for them decrease, etc etc.??

Well, its fitting that the thing that closes the Meadowlands isn't the government it's the union. really is fitting in New Jersey

I guess zero income is better then a 20% paycut