With little response coming from industry groups involved in a Nov. 13 meeting with representatives of the Jockeys’ Guild, riders across the country – and Guild representatives themselves – are raising concerns over the organization’s ability to provide health insurance for its members.
“Right now we’re just trying to get through the short-term crisis,” national manager Terry Meyocks said. “The industry knows we’re in a crisis situation. If they want to help we’re trying to be transparent…we’re asking for assistance and help working with the industry.”
Sources close to the Guild have mentioned that the organization may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection (a liquidation procedure) and possibly start a new organization. Jockey William Hollick, a rider in the Mid-Atlantic region, said a Guild representative told him about the possible forming of a new organization to be called the North American Jockeys’ Association.
Meyocks, however, denied that either process is under way.
“I’m not saying that someone hasn’t brought it up, but we’re sticking to Chapter 11 and reorganization” of the current Guild, Meyocks said. “It’s one of our options down the road to go with Chapter 7, absolutely, but right now, the jocks are not comfortable with that idea.”
Guild representative Larry Saumell said he is telling jockeys in the Mid-Atlantic region that the organization is going through a total restructuring and to “be patient.”
“We have our annual board meeting in two weeks, and I think for the first time in eight years it looks like we’re gonna start to move forward,” Saumell said. He declined to comment on the possibility of a new organization that would replace the current Guild.
“I hope they’re going to form another organization, more like a labor organization,” said Tony Black of Philadelphia Park Jockeys, an independent group based in Pennsylvania. “Regardless, there are questions that need to be answered. They can’t just keep skirting these issues.”
Meyocks said his main focus is on finding insurance for the riders who will be without protection should the Guild be forced to terminate its current healthcare plan. In a Nov. 5 letter issued to membership, Meyocks explained that members may be left without insurance by Dec. 31. The Guild filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 12.