Joint Council 25, Local 727 Fight Against Reduced Race Cards

The Illinois Racing Board on June 23 rejected Arlington International Racecourse’s request to allow fewer than eight races per live card at Illinois racetracks.

The Board’s vote came after hearing impassioned testimony from representatives of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA) in opposition of the request.

For decades, Teamsters Local 727 has represented dozens of racetrack workers at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Racecourse and Maywood Park.

“The proposal before you today will make it harder for track employees, horsemen and others that depend on this industry to support their families. More horsemen will leave this state, and the horse racing industry will continue its decline,” said Joint Council 25 Political Director Jeff Crabtree during the Illinois Racing Board meeting at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. “We recommend working together with the sponsors of this proposal to see if a compromise can be reached. More time should be devoted to addressing the concerns of what reduced races would mean to all of the stakeholders, including the employees who have dedicated their lives to this industry.”

Arlington Racecourse’s request to alter the Illinois Racing Board’s 2015 Dates Order to permit fewer races per live card came on the heels of its proposal to drastically cut live racing dates during a hearing on Sept. 30, 2014. Ultimately, the Board adopted a 2015 Dates Order that preserved live racing dates — and jobs — at the state’s racetracks.

Joint Council 25 President and Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer John T. Coli adamantly opposed a reduction in live racing dates during his powerful testimony at the Board’s license hearing on Sept. 19, 2014.

Coli said while the Teamsters understand there are obstacles facing Illinois’ horseracing industry, the union has a long history of working with the racetracks to ensure the industry remains successful.

“We are confident that we can work together to make Illinois racetracks more viable and competitive with surrounding states without harming the hardworking men and women who are the very lifeblood of the industry,” Coli said.

Teamsters Local 727 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.