Elsewhere online
December 23, 2014

Big Concessions Firms Get Free Labor in Deals With Charities

The Tampa Bay Times reports on stadium-concessions companies' use of unpaid labor to staff food and drink stands at sporting and other events in exchange for giving a share of the proceeds to charity. Such contracts, widely used by major concessions providers such as Aramark and Centerplate, typically earmark 6 percent to 10 percent of a stand's sales revenue to the organization providing volunteers.

Attorneys specializing in labor law say deals wherein volunteers work on behalf of nonprofits but generate income for commercial firms fall into a legal gray area, but participating local charities say the stadium work provides an irreplaceable source of revenue, raising tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The little-known practice gained attention in the region after the Times reported last month on a local charity's program in which homeless men got food and shelter in exchange for working at stadium events. Aramark and Centerplate, which respectively handle concessions for Buccaneers football and Rays baseball games, canceled contracts with the charity, New Beginnings of Tampa.