Just a day after the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers promptly reversed course after catching flak for implementing a 20 percent reduction on employee salaries, the Boston Bruins’ ownership group apparently didn’t read the room.
Delaware North, the global food service and hospitality company led by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon — announcing that 150 total employees of the Bruins and TD Garden would either be placed on temporary leave or face a reduced salary due to the economic impact caused from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Here is the full statement:
Delaware North today announced temporary business stabilization measures relating to Boston Bruins and TD Garden full-time salaried associates due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our operations.
Effective April 1, 2020, 68 of our full-time salaried associates will be placed on temporary leave, receiving one week of paid leave and eight weeks of full benefits. Additionally, as of April 1, 2020, 82 of our full-time salaried associates will receive an indefinite salary reduction. Those associates not impacted by the temporary leave or salary reduction have employment contracts.
As relayed to our associates today, none of these decisions were reached without difficult and painful deliberations. These measures are intended to be temporary with associate employment and compensation returning once our business resumes to its normal state from this unprecedented stoppage.
This is the latest in a long line of missteps taken by Delaware North since the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent outbreak halted all sports and grinded life as we know it to a halt.
Since the NHL season was paused back on March 12, every NHL franchise has announced some form of plan or other measure to properly compensate the thousands of part-time workers and other game-night staff that are currently out a job.
Whereas Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced on TV the same night the NBA season was suspended that he would set up a plan to take care of these workers (March 11), it took the Bruins and Delaware North until Saturday, March 21 to announce a fund for part-time associates — the last NHL club to do so.
That statement read:
“The Jacobs Family has established a $1.5 million fund for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden part-time gameday associates who will be financially burdened if the six remaining regular season Bruins games are not played. We thank our associates for their patience and understanding while we worked through the complexity of this unprecedented situation.”
Even with that announcement, the language of said fund from the Bruins’ ownership raised some eyebrows. As stated above, the fund was established “if” the six remaining regular-season Bruins games are not played.
Currently, these games are all simply suspended/postponed, and we may not have an idea on if these games will be called off for some time, perhaps even as late as the summer. As such, these workers very well could be waiting for months for some clarity, and more importantly, some much needed financial assistance.
Then, just days after releasing said murky statement, a letter obtained by the Boston Globe revealed that ushers at TD Garden would be laid off due to the lack of events scheduled at the venue. The letter noted that these part-time workers “may be eligible” for unemployment benefits, although it remains to be seen what compensation they will receive, given that some also hold other jobs away from the Garden.
Put it all together, and the optics from the past week should stand as nothing but an ugly black eye for the Bruins and an owner with a net worth of $3.1 billion.
Yes, given the economic climate and the various dried-up revenue streams, painful corporate decisions are unfortunately going to be par for the course across the US and the world in the coming weeks and month. But Delaware North's actions — both in terms of being the last one to the party when it came to assisting part-time workers and one of the first to roll out staff layoffs — make it awfully hard to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
To put it lightly, Jacobs has drawn the ire of many Bruins fans over the years — whether it be his role in the last two work stoppages in the NHL or his unwillingness to spend big on many talented B's clubs before a salary cap was put in place. But this move, in which hard-working employees have either been left in the dark or outright laid off in the midst of an economic crisis, represents a new low — one that many fans will likely not forget when the Garden eventually opens its doors again.