Citi Field made up of rival Phillies suppliers due to worker shortage

It is the Citi of fraternal food!

The Mets are having such a hard time hosting home games with food and drink vendors in a dry job market that the service company responsible has to bring in the workforce from rival Philadelphia Phillies, has learned The Post.

Vendors who usually sell hot dogs and beer at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia were transported for an hour by bus to Citi Field to serve stalwarts of the Unsuspecting Mets in recent home games, according to employees and a union leader.

Foodservice company Aramark, which hires salespeople in both stadiums, is so desperate to fill positions amid the coronavirus crisis and associated economic downturn, it is paying Philly-based workers to undertake the commute from sometimes three hours in enemy territory, said Ryan Nissim-Sabat, director of Union 174 in Philadelphia.

Fans line up in the concession stands before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox at Citizens Bank Park on August 3, 2019.
The vendors were transported from Philadelphia to Queens.
Hunter Martin / Getty Images

“They take them back and forth by bus and pay them for the ride,” Nissim-Sabat said.

“I guess they’re having a hard time filling the positions because they don’t pay a high enough wage,” he said, adding that workers in the concessions make about $ 15 an hour. “At the end of [the] day when we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and asking workers to be in front of 10,000 foreigners in a stadium is always a bit risky.

“They should pay more.”

On June 11, as the Mets prepared for a home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, some Citi Field employees noticed buses from Phillies Stadium food vendors arriving in Flushing.

“I saw buses full of workers in the parking lot and saw they were coming from Philly,” said Bobby Lee, longtime Citi Field salesperson.

In recent months, New York’s restaurant industry has been plagued by a shortage of workers, some of whom say it’s better to collect unemployment checks – fattened by COVID-19 relief bills – than to return to work.

But Lee said the arrangement went both ways.

“It’s mutual,” Lee said. “They took people there by bus [to Philadelphia] too much.”

Aramark is in charge of hiring concession workers at both stadiums.
Aramark is in charge of hiring concession workers at both stadiums.
Matt Rourke / AP

Aramark may just want to fill the vacancies with people who already work for the company instead of hiring temporary workers, Nissim-Sabat said – while saying it would be more efficient for the company to have providers who stick to home gaming.

“They should hire locally,” he said. “It’s a waste of resources to send them both ways.”

A representative from Aramark said the company has occasionally transported workers from Philadelphia to Citi Field for decades, but workers said this has been happening more frequently in recent weeks.

The representative did not respond to inquiries about whether the company was having difficulty hiring locally.

Ryan Nissim-Sabat, director of Union 174, said workers sometimes traveled three hours to work in New York.
Ryan Nissim-Sabat, director of Union 174, said workers sometimes traveled three hours to work in New York.
Corey Perrine / Getty Images

Harold Kaufman, spokesperson for the Mets, declined to comment.

For their part, Mets fans were divided on whether they wanted to be served by the road team.

“I would never work at Citizens Banks Park because it’s that grain. I’m a huge Mets fan so I would never want to work for the Phillies organization, ”said Jamie Lynch, a longtime supporter who has said he would only agree with the underdogs if they were other Mets boosters – or at least agnostic.

“Yes [slugging first baseman Pete] Alonso hits a home run… and I’m there and I grab some food and they hand it to me and they’re upset, it definitely crushes my vibe at the park, ”explained the 21-year-old Westchester resident wearing L’s jersey. ace of the Amazons Jacob deGrom. “I want all the pro-Mets.”

Aramark said this movement of workers is not a recent change.
Aramark said this movement of workers is not a recent change.
Corbis / Icon Sportswire via Getty

Another sports enthusiast, who declined to be identified by name, said the important thing was the service, not who provided it.

“If I want to buy a beer at a game, I don’t care if it’s from a Phillies employee,” the fan said. “I’d be even more pissed off if I wanted a beer and couldn’t get one. “


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