Guest Opinion: 49ers Should Focus on Football, Not Political Hardball

Guest Opinion: 49ers Should Focus on Football, Not Political Hardball

By Ben Field, Executive Officer, South Bay Labor Council

With their 2-14 record last year, the 49ers’ skill on the gridiron needs work, but their focus seems to be on playing political hardball instead.

Last week, as time ran out on the contract for security services at Levi Stadium, the 49ers attempted to strong arm the Stadium Authority, which is the same as the Santa Clara City Council, into a five year contract extension.  Since the Monster Jam event is coming up on April 22, the 49ers figured the City would give in.  The 49ers miscalculated.

Instead of granting a five-year extension, the City approved a one-year extension and announced the intention to better protect the City’s interests at the stadium by fixing the guidelines for all service contracts there, including security.  As everyone knows, there have been repeated security problems at the stadium due to the security contractor Landmark’s poor performance.  These security problems endanger the community, damage the reputation of the City and place a costly strain on City law enforcement.

So the City wanted to institute performance measures to help ensure better security at the stadium in the future.

The security problems at the stadium were not the only problem with the contract extension.  The 49ers had promised to provide good quality jobs for local residents, but their security officers are paid far below a living wage.  In addition, the security contractor hired by the 49ers was fiercely anti-union.  So the City wanted to institute a living wage requirement and a prohibition against the intimidation of workers who want to organize.

The City also wanted to end the 49ers’ strong arm tactics, so they proposed to reform the contracting process by requiring more communication, collaboration and advanced preparation of contract expiration.

What was the 49ers’ response to the City’s move toward performance measures, living wage, labor neutrality and a fair contracting process?  The 49ers got their security contractor Landmark to threaten the City and the individual Councilmembers with a frivolous $5 million lawsuit.  This threat is based on the false assertion that Landmark had entered into a new, five-year contract for security work at the stadium, when in fact any such contract would have had to have been approved by the Stadium Authority, and it never was.

Fortunately, the City has an alternative to extending the contract with Landmark.  Staff Pro, which provides security at the Oakland Coliseum, has expressed an interest in the one-year contract.  Staff Pro says they will agree with added performance standards and requirements for a living wage, labor peace and a fair contracting process.  And Staff Pro is prepared to take over security operations in time for the April 22 event at the stadium.

It looks like the 49ers might be about as good at political hardball as they are at football.

Editor’s Note: We extended this opportunity to union representation to discuss their views on stadium contract issues.


  1. I’m not a union guy, but I know that if you generally get what you pay for. If it’s true that the 49ers are paying low salaries for security that explains the security problems. That and the drinking. Why don’t you just get rid of all the low paid security workers and hire cops from surrounding cities. That might be expensive but you’ll get top security. The team can afford it.

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