The Jockeys’ Guild has launched a federal and state legislative agenda for 2007 aimed at improving pay and other benefits for riders, according to the organization’s national manager, Dwight Manley.
On the national level, the Guild is working with several members of Congress to introduce federal legislation that would give jockeys rights under the Interstate Horseracing Act. Currently, jockeys are not considered “horsemen” under the Act and, therefore, are not afforded the right to negotiate agreements concerning the broadcasting of the racing signal.
In California, the Guild will be sponsoring legislation to increase jockey mount fees. “Mount fees are the minimum wage for jockeys. They’ve rarely been raised and are now inadequate,” said Manley.
“California is a state with a high purse structure and its industry can afford to compensate jockeys better. Since 1970, jockey mount fees have lost so much value that they would have to be increased by 200 percent in order to keep up with increases in the minimum wage.”
According to the Guild, in the average California race a jockey on a losing mount earns about $50; however the jockeys must pay from that fee for agents and valets, and because they are considered independent contractors, must pay 15% of their earnings for Social Security and Medicare.
The Guild is introducing legislation in Louisiana that would provide funding to assist jockeys to purchase health insurance. Last year, a similar bill passed the Louisiana legislature with strong bipartisan support, but was vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
“We are now working with the Governor’s office to come up with a funding formula that will meet with her approval,” explained Manley.
The Guild also is reintroducing legislation in Kentucky to bring jockeys under that state’s workers’ compensation system. Last year, the legislation passed the Kentucky House, but stalled on the Senate floor.
“We hope that this year we can move the bill to Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was in support of the legislation,” said Manley.
“The Guild believes that we must have a strong legislative agenda to increase the safety and economic security of our members throughout the country.”