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Delaware North plans temporary leave, pay cuts for thousands of workers

Delaware North is placing most of its full-time workers on leave as the Buffalo-based hospitality giant grapples with the deep blow to its business caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company said Wednesday afternoon that it is putting more than two-thirds of its 3,100 full-time employees on a temporary leave.

The workers will receive one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits, according to a Delaware North statement. The moves take effect April 1.

Those full-time workers who remain will do so at a reduced rate of pay that wasn't specified by the company, which has several hundred at its global headquarters on Delaware Avenue.

Spokesman Glen A. White said the pay cuts apply to top company executives – including co-CEOs Jerry Jacobs Jr. and Lou Jacobs and their brother, Charlie, CEO of the company's holdings in Boston. But he did not respond when asked whether the company will continue to make any regular monetary distributions to members of the Jacobs family.

The vast majority of the company's roughly 57,000 employees are part-time or seasonal and for the most part they are no longer being scheduled for work as this coronavirus pandemic reaches into every sector of Delaware North's business empire.

"Delaware North is taking these temporary steps to ensure the company’s long-term success," the company said in its statement. "The Jacobs family and Delaware North hope the crisis will be short-lived and greatly appreciate the talented and passionate employees who have made the company successful and hope they remain healthy and safe."

The company is urging those workers placed on leave to apply for unemployment benefits, White confirmed.

Few companies in Western New York were likely to feel more of an effect from the coronavirus outbreak than Delaware North.

The firm owned by the Jacobs family for more than 100 years has annual sales of $3.7 billion, much of it driven by revenue from concession sales at sports stadiums, airports and national parks and from the operation of casinos and hotels.

All are being battered by Covid-19 closings and cancellations.

"The spread of Covid-19 has forced the closure of nearly every one of Delaware North’s more than 200 operating locations in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia – including sports and entertainment venues, restaurants, casinos and parks," the company said. "Our airport locations are continuing to operate, but only at a greatly reduced scale."

The company said it responded as quickly as possible to the pandemic, by restricting business travel and postponing some ongoing projects. White did not identify which projects the company is pausing.

But the firm said it still is absorbing ongoing financial losses.

Delaware North described the employee leave as temporary. White said the workers would be brought back on a phased-in basis as the business environment improves and Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Delaware North's headquarters is at 250 Delaware Ave., where it operates the 116-room Westin Buffalo hotel.

The company closed the Westin on Monday after checkout, although it still is running its to-go service from Jake's Cafe.

The company also has full-time employees at an Amherst call center, Hamburg Gaming, Ralph Wilson Stadium, KeyBank Center, Niagara Falls State Park and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but White declined to say how many of the 3,100 full-timers are in Buffalo Niagara.

Jeremy Jacobs, the billionaire owner of Delaware North, also owns the NHL's Boston Bruins.

The Bruins this past weekend said the team had set up a $1.5 million fund to aid employees affected by the NHL shutdown, according to Boston-area media outlets.

However, payments hinge on the cancellation of the remaining six Bruins home games. The Bruins were the last NHL team to reveal any plan to help their workers.

Delaware North on Wednesday issued a separate statement detailing what it's doing with its employees for the Bruins and at TD Garden, the arena that also is owned by the company.

The company, effective April 1, is placing 68 full-time salaried workers on temporary leave and cutting the pay of 82 remaining salaried full-time workers.

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