Thursday, April 14, 2016

Daily News: arena workers dismayed by low pay, no benefits caused by limited hours; conversion crew decertifies union

There's some significant news in today's New York Daily News article, Promises of full-time jobs at Atlantic Yards has turned into part-time reality for Barclays employees.

Not only Nathaniel Vinton report on problems facing ushers and security guards seeking a new contract after being unable to secure more hours and thus benefits, as I reported last December,  he reveals a change coming:
So too is the union representing the conversion crew, which transforms the facility between Nets basketball games, Islanders hockey games, and other concerts and events. Disgruntled workers from that group voted 54-23 in December to ditch their union for a new one, which is also seeking new terms with [arena operator Mikhail] Prokhorov.
The conversion crew, it goes unmentioned, in 2013 tried and failed (but came close) to decertifying their union, aiming for more compensation.

Today's article offers some statistics:
About 300 of the arena’s approximately 2,500 employees work full time. Ushers and security guards, who typically make $12 to $15 an hour, very rarely get benefits like health insurance. They are currently renegotiating their union contract with the arena’s management.
The figure of 2,500 employees is certainly more than the "2,000 jobs" projected in 2012, with 1,901 part-time and 105 full-time. And 300 full-time employees is a notable increase. (In what department are those jobs?)

But the real question is FTE (full-time equivalent). How different is the current FTE compared to the 1,240 FTE originally projected? We don't know.

But hiring more workers without adding FTE positions not only makes it look like the arena is a good corporate citizen (all those ads for jobs!), it also increases the pool and potentially lowers hours for current workers (as I was told)/

Some disgruntled employees

Employees interviewed by the Daily News, who didn't use their names since they're forbidden to talk with the press, expressed disgruntlement, saying the overall pay is low because the hours are so scarce.

A spokesman for the developer said--of course--that the arena employment system was not aimed to stymie workers, attributing it all to 1) the contract and 2) employee availability.

However, as the Daily News reports, "according to 32BJ SEIU, there were 34 part-time security officers who qualified for health benefits, but in 2014 and 2015, none of them qualified," because, even though they worked nearly all the events offered them, they didn't work more than 150 events and thus qualified for benefits.

The Daily News reports what I was told last December, that workers believe their work schedule is organized to keep them below the 150-event threshold. Worse, low attendance at events, especially Nets games, has cut into hours.

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