The assets of Charles Johnson, the controversial chief owner of the San Francisco Giants, increased by $815 million during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, his net worth was a mere $4.2 billion dollars. By January 2021 he commanded a fortune of $5.015 billion, an increase just short of 20%.
Workers at Oracle Park, where the Giants play, have been taking it on the chin during the pandemic, but the pandemic apparently hasn’t taken any skin off Johnson’s nose.
These numbers come from a February 2021 report by the Institute for Policy Studies (ITEP), aptly titled Pandemic Super Bowl 2021: Billionaires Win, We Lose.
The ITEP report states that “No matter who wins Super Bowl LV, the big winners in our COVID-ravaged economy include dozens of billionaire sports-team owners.”
Sixty-four sports billionaires, the owners of 68 professional sports teams, “have seen their wealth increase by over $98.5 billion, or 30 percent, over the last 10 months,” based on data from Forbes Magazine.
If that isn’t shocking enough, the report drives the point home even further:
“The wealth increases of billionaire sports-team owners is just part of the dominance of a national dynasty of 661 U.S. billionaires whose wealth has grown by $1.2 trillion, or 40 percent, during the pandemic, climbing from $2.9 trillion… to $4.13 trillion.”
The old adage about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has never been more true.
Johnson’s wealth has ballooned even though he donated FIVE TIMES as much as any other single sports team owner to the Republicans during the 2016-2020 election cycle, almost $11 million dollars, giving aid and comfort to some very crazy Republicans, as well as to “Dark Ages” Donald Trump as he was preparing to send his fascist mob into the halls of Congress.
Back home in San Francisco, the last time food concession workers like myself had a raise at the Giants ballpark was March 2018, nearly three years ago. Our UNITE HERE Local 2 contract expired in March 2019, a year before the pandemic shut the place down. Of course almost everybody has been laid off for the last year, and your guess is as good as mine as to when we will be going back to work, and how many of us might get that opportunity.
The Giants, in their magnanimity, granted us $500 checks back in April 2020. I hope that didn’t put out Mr. Johnson too much.
In August, Local 2 held a couple of well-attended demonstrations at the ballpark, demanding that the Giants do something more for their laid-off workers, many of whom have worked at the ballpark, and Candlestick Park before that, for decades. The San Francisco Labor Council also sponsored a Labor Day march and rally that ended up at the ballpark.
Despite all, the Giants refused to even talk to Local 2. Perhaps Johnson was too busy counting his ever-growing pile of dough.
The Giants are building a massive development project just south of the ballpark, on what used to be the main parking lot. They are expected to make umpteen millions from new office buildings and homes there.
A few days ago the Giants announced, as part of their media blitz around Black History Month, that they are going to name a couple of streets in this new development after Black folks. One of these streets will be named for Maya Angelou, the famous writer, poet and civil rights activist. The other will be named for Toni Stone, who played in the Negro Leagues and was the first woman to play on a professional men’s baseball team.
Naming streets after Black leaders is great, but it won’t put any food in the mouths of the many laid-off Black workers at the ballpark.
Mr. Johnson, can you spare a dime?
This article was first published by 48 Hills.