Unions Making Phony Claims About Honda Center

Tefere Gebre of the OC Labor Federation

Tefere Gebre of the OC Labor Federation

Apparently, something doesn’t even have to be true to become the subject of media coverage.

Today, the Voice of OC published a story headlined:

“Honda Center Layoffs Could Mean Tax Credits for Company.”

What follows is an entire article claiming that when Anaheim Arena Management hires some 500 food-and-beverage workers as part of bringing that service in-house, it could, maybe, possibly apply for Enterprise Zone tax credits. The VOC even quotes an outraged Ada Briseno, vice-honcho of UNITE-HERE Local 11 (which represents the Aramark workers currently providing food-and-beverage service at The Honda Center):

The workers’ union on Wednesday called the move “absolutely shameful.”

“Make no mistake, this is an attempt by Anaheim Arena Management to undercut workers’ rights, reduce wages and cut benefits,” said Ada Briseno, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 11. “And because the Honda Center is in an enterprise zone, they will receive millions in tax breaks for firing the workers and hiring replacements. It is corporate welfare at its worst, and taxpayers will foot the bill.”

Here’s the problem: what Ms. Briseno’s is saying is totally, completely false. Anaheim Arena Management has never had any intention of applying for Enterprise Zone tax credits and have issued a statement to that effect:

Anaheim Arena Management Will Not Apply for Enterprise Zone Credits

ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 16, 2013) – The Chairman of Anaheim Arena Management, Michael Schulman, released the following statement today, clarifying that the company will not seek tax credits under the State of California’s Enterprise Zone program and hopes and expects many employees working for the expiring food service contractor at Honda Center will apply for positions with the in-house food service operations.

“To make the record perfectly clear, our decision to take food service in-house was based solely on our relentless pursuit of giving our customers the very best entertainment experience possible. It had nothing to do with California Enterprise Zone tax credits, which we never had any intention of utilizing.”

Anaheim Arena Management announced in February that it would not renew its existing food service/concessions contract with Aramark Corporation when it expires on June 30, and instead take those operations in-house. To service the existing contract, Aramark employed approximately 20 full time and 500 part-time/seasonal workers.

Anaheim Arena Management (AAM) has started the process of hiring employees to staff operations starting July 1, 2013. To date, AAM has received nearly 2,000 applications for the positions.

Why did Ms. Briseno make such a false claim? She didn’t say “They could apply” or “I think they may be eligible to apply.” She declared, on the basis of no evidence, that The Honda Center would harvest “millions in tax breaks for firing workers and firing replacements.”

She’s not alone in making this phony claim. At Tuesday, Anaheim City Council meeting, OC Labor Federation Executive Director Tefere Gebre also leveled this baseless accusation (go to the 55 minute mark):

They’re being told your’e gonna get fired so the Honda Center management can make $50 million additional dollars for firing them and re-hiring them at a lower wage.

That is because you have a sign outside, because of this thing called Enterprise Zones. If the current employers…they get the Enterprise Zone credit Now, for firing them and re-hiring, the management at Honda Center will get $37,400 for everyone of these employees.

Again, too bad for Mr. Gebre that what he said isn’t true. Not only is the Honda Center NOT doing what Gebre claims, but the EZ law expressly prohibits employers from doing what Gebre was denouncing.

And beside being illegal, the whole firing-rehiring shell game doesn’t even make good business sense. It requires one to believe a company is going to risk a bunch if unlawful termination lawsuits and absorb the expense of hiring and training at least a number of new employees – all to claim a tax credit. Outside of union HQ and a college faculty lounge (or a newsroom), where does that even sound plausible?

As for the Voice of OC: what’s up with running a story about something that isn’t true? Sure, the story has a couple of CYA elements: the escape-hatch word “could” in the headline and “the Anaheim Arena Management didn’t return a call seeking comment” disclaimer (how long did the reporter wait for a call-back before clicking the “publish” button?). If the story was about the Honda Center claiming tax credits, wouldn’t you sart with finding out if they were planing to claim a tax credit?

Individuals or organizations “could” do lots of things. Does the mere possibility an excuse for a news organization to give credence to baseless union bluster?

A final comment: I’m not waiting for any of those in the local blogosphere who are fond of shouting “liar” at their political opponents (regardless of whether they’re guilty of that offense) to call out their allies for making untrue statements.

23 comments

  1. Thank you Matt for once again balancing the screeching rhetoric on the left at VOC with the truth.

  2. Matt – for once I am in agreement with you on this subject.

  3. Mr. Young – you have no conscience when it comes to flinging baseless attacks against many many people. Do not attempt to take the high road on this issue. I don’t agree with the tactics of the labor federation or UNITE HERE on this issue but at least they are fighting for peoples jobs. You just attack to injur people for no reason whatsoever. I wish someone would take out ads in the Register with your mug shot and criminal record – SAVE ANAHEIM – run by a felon! So we could legitimately discredit you and your venom.

  4. Sick of politics

    Good point city employee. But is unite here fighting jobs or union dues? I believe in unions and their fundamental purpose. Sadly, many have gone off track.

  5. I hadn’t been paying too much attention to this story, so I’m a little late here, but I’m working on a story that includes a depiction of Gov. Brown’s Enterprise Zone reform, and the Honda Center seemed to be a local story that illustrated the problems with that, so I just had to come look at THIS story of Matt’s to see what he was on about – really, is it a lie that millions of dollars of EZ credits are a, or the, motivation for this churning of Honda Center employees?

    And really — I was gonna give your argument a chance, but… this is it?? Chairman Schulman, feeling the heat of very bad publicity, puts out a press release announcing that his company is NOT going to apply for these tax credits?

    Do you realize he and his company, whoever succeeds him, has FOUR YEARS to grab those 50 million dollars? They’re just going to be sitting on the table for them, whenever they want to grab them. I mean, that would be malpractice, shareholders should fire him, if he doesn’t grab those $50 million SOME time in the next four years when there’s less light shining on the company. How naive are you pretending to be, while you call the rest of us liars?

    Good thing is, with the new reform of AB 93, this sort of Enterprise Zone abuse won’t be possible any more.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Vern, I should lend my old college textbook, “Logic Made Simple.” I think you would find it very helpful.

      I mean, you do understand the difference between potentiality and actuality, don’t you?

      • And the rest of us are supposed to sit here and believe, as you pretend to, that the canny business leader of a big corporation is just going to sit there throughout 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and early 2017, and leave up to $50 million that his company has coming sitting there on a table, just because in the heat of a moment of bad publicity he says he will. That would be malpractice.

        He knows well that, come 2016, if anyone is paying enough attention to say “Hey, they took those tax credits!” everyone else will say “Huh? What tax credits?” and then, “so they had them coming? Big deal!” And for you to pretend to believe this press release is paid propaganda masquerading as charming naivete.

        How ’bout this bet: You eat your hat in 2017 if Honda Center has applied for those credits, and I’ll eat mine if they haven’t.

        • Picture this: A lion having just killed a wildebeest, drags the creature into its lair, and protests to the angry camera-wielding tourists standing just outside, “I’m not going to actually eat this wildebeest. Now, just move along …”

          (And of course Cunningham comes around saying “You guys are all such liars, why would a lion eat a wildebeest?” etc etc)

        • Matthew Cunningham

          Well, Vern, when you have no evidence other than what you think, then we should believe The Honda Center. They have been straight shooters throughout this controversy; the unions have not.

          Conjecture is one thing, Vern. Presenting your conjecture as fact is quite another.

          And what Tefere Gebre, UNITE-HERE the local union community did was to claim as reality what was nothing more than their suspicion.

          • Well, from a larger view, even if the company is retarded enough not to claim $50 million it has coming to it, the outrageous thing is that there were incentives out there for the Honda Center to engage in this behavior, and the good thing is this will no longer be possible with the Governor’s Enterprise Zone reform!

            • Matthew Cunningham

              It’s a tax credit for hiring someone. Amazing how the Left views that negatively. I guess it should be a credit for putting windmill turbines on top of the Honda Center. That would put us a little closer to Obama’s vision of a nation of windmill technicians and solar panel installers.

        • Sick of Politics

          From the outside looking in- it appears you are ready, willing and able to believe the union at their word but not the Honda Center. And why is that you have a hard time believing that the Honda Center’s decision to give the ax to Aramark is related to their poor service? I think we can ALL agree that most jobs are somehow tied to performance, right? And that if a person OR entity is not properly performing, then it is only logical to sever the relationship?

  6. LOL… re-writing the pingbacks – that’s a new one!

  7. Sick of Politics

    I can agree with you on the Minimum Wage Increase and the Walmart issue. I also believe that CA is not very business friendly, thus having more of an adverse effect on small businesses.
    But cannot agree on the license issue. We have a large number of Americans and legal residents that are unemployed, underemployed (have to work 2 or more part time jobs) and those who have fallen off the rolls. I do not believe that adding millions of more people will help Americans and legal residents. Democrats want the reform for the votes and big business wants the cheap labor. I do not believe that Americans and legal residents will not do those jobs, they just want a living wage to do so. And quite honestly, if a business cannot afford a living wage, they should seriously re think being in business.

  8. Matthew Cunningham

    If you’re going to be childish, Vern, then I’ll have to take steps.

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