Mon January 25, 2010
Fairmount to keep racing in 2010
By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio
Collinsville, IL – Fairmount Park race track is back in business after a tentative labor agreement restored all of its live racing dates.
The move to cut the track's racing days from 52 down to 3 was in partial response a breakdown in labor negotiations between the board and 6 of its track supervisors.
Local officials estimate that closing the track would have affected an additional 1000 workers.
Several downstate politicians including Alton Senator Bill Haine are now pushing a bill to bar the racing board from using a carrot and stick approach in future labor negotiations.
"The racing board is constituted by law to fairly regulate an industry," said Haine, "not constituted to put a part of that industry out of business that is not their mission."
Fairmount is the only Illinois live race track outside of the Chicago suburbs.
But Illinois Racing Board President Marc Laino says the heart of the issue was paying full-time wages to supervisory staff for Fairmount's short season.
"Its unreasonable to expect full time employment for a race track that runs 52 days of live racing," said Laino.
"I would think that the taxpayers would be outraged if a state agency paid state employees to sit at a racetrack that was dark."
In response to the board's budget concerns the Illinois General Assembly will raise Fairmount's operating tax to three quarters of a percent to help generate more revenue.