Monday, December 14, 2015

Daily News: union workers pushing Barclays Center to set up stable schedules so they can get insurance

A scoop for Albor Ruiz in the New York Daily News, Ruiz: Barclays Center workers campaign for company to fulfill steady employment, health insurance promises, points out--as I have long noted--that saying jobs go to local residents don't mean they are good jobs:
Yet three years later, although many of the jobs at Barclays have gone to local residents, they are not the kind that can support these families as originally promised. Not surprisingly, the workers are starting a campaign this week to get Barclays to fulfill its promises.
The affected workers are those whose jobs are related to center events. These include ushers, ticket takers and guards and those who set up the floors for events.
According to the union, Barclays has made a blatant end run around the intention of the contract signed in 2012. Barclays denies it.
Note that I don't think they promised all or most of the jobs could "support" families. They just claimed they were good jobs, fudging the issue.

However, for floor conversion workers, as Ruiz writes, there seemed to be promises of growth, including health insurance and stable pay. (I don't think many of the other workers expect/get insurance.)

And they did not--until recently, as I wrote last July--reveal the wage. As noted in the screenshot at right, ushers, ticket takers, security officers, facilities crew members, and janitors or /housekeepers are paid at least $12/hour, or more with specialized skills and experience.

The possibility for growth

Ruiz writes:
The contract promised to set up stable events crews and work schedules that would give workers the ability to increase their pay rates and get health insurance. But over the past couple of years, none of the event crew workers has been assigned to a steady crew, nor have they been given the opportunity to meet eligibility requirements.
Last year, only four employees qualified for health insurance, according to Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which represents more than 600 of the workers. From January to October this year, only one worker is currently eligible.
In fact, according to Barclays, only 51 of the 32BJ employees are currently receiving employer-paid benefits. With the Islanders coming to Brooklyn, the company said, the number of events to be worked by union members will be significantly increased. 
“I tell people I make $21.56 and they think it’s great. It would be good if we worked enough events, which is what we are asking Barclays for,” said Brooklyn resident Terrell Davis, 49, a loading dock worker.
Keep in mind that it's in the arena's interest to have more workers, since it 1) lets them say more people are employed and 2) allows them to keep hours low enough that workers don't qualify for benefits.

Barclays spokesman Barry Baum made a vague statement about working with the union, and a  SEIU 32BJ said they want to hold Barclays to their promise to benefit the community.

It would be interesting to see exactly what the contract said.

Keep in mind that, in 2013, the arena conversion workers, frustrated with their contract, tried to leave SEIU 32BJ for the New York City District Council of Carpenters, which represents the similarly situated workers at Madison Square Garden.

The union decertification vote failed; though those voting overwhelmingly wanted to switch, they couldn't get a majority to vote, which meant--depending on whom you asked--people stayed home or there really weren't as many workers as claimed.

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