Philly Jockeys, Union Pursue Other Avenues

Two weeks after the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board rejected a petition from Philadelphia Park Jockeys in its efforts to have union representation, the union said Jan. 5 it would continue to explore other avenues to help the riders gain increased on-track catastrophic insurance coverage.

Gloria Larrondo, president of Local 947, International Chapter of Journeyman Horseshoers and Allied Trades, said while the union has respect for the law, it doesn’t believe changes need to be made regarding jockeys being labeled independent contractors.

The release stated the following: “As you are aware, this organization filed a petition on behalf of the jockeys operating at the racetrack. The Pennsylvania Labor Board dismissed the petition pursuant to the case law 34 Pa. Code S 95.81(b), because horse jockeys have been determined to be independent contractors rather than employees. Although the board has declined to assert jurisdiction in this matter, the jockeys are in the process of exploring alternatives in order to achieve their obligations.”

In an interview, Larrondo said: “We’re looking into this ruling further. We do think that changes need to be made. I have contacted lawyers in Pennsylvania and Washington (D.C.), and we are waiting to hear what they say.”

Philadelphia Park Jockeys currently have $100,000 of on-track insurance coverage, well below what any other major racetrack offers its riders. Tony Black, who formed Philadelphia Park Jockeys last May, said he is still encouraged that a positive resolution will come in the near future.

“We might have gotten beat on this ruling, but we still didn’t lose anything,” said Black, Philly Park’s all-time leading jockey. “Any time you have a situation like this you have to have a Plan B. We are in the process of coming up with another plan.

“I still think having our own representation is better for us because the (national Jockeys’ Guild) has no solution for our local issues.”

Black said he is also encouraged because discussions between racetrack management and the jockeys could resume again. The two groups have not formally spoken since October.