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As $15 fast-food pay advances, Barclays Center, finally coming clean, reveals arena jobs start at $10.50/hour. Not "living wage."

From Barclays Center Jobs 
After refusing to reveal details for years, the Barclays Center recently began specifying pay rates as it recruits part-timers. Wages start at $10.50 per hour for food service jobs, $12 for ushers, and $15 for cooks or dishwashers.

Are those "living wages," as Barclays Center reps have claimed?

No, and in two ways.  The jobs are part-time, which means they can't qualify as "living wage." Also, while current legislation defines $10 as "living wage," that requires benefits. It also underestimates what it cost to live in New York City.

Meanwhile, the push for $15

Indeed, a panel set up by Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday recommended raising the minimum wage for fast-food franchise workers to $15, well above the state minimum wage of $8.75. Capital reported:
In New York City, the rate would rise to $10.50 by the end of this year, to $12 by the end of 2016, to $13.50 by the end of 2017 and then $15 on Dec. 21, 2018.
I don't think the arena jobs qualify as "fast-food," though the entry-level food service jobs are likely the functional equivalent. They are getting that $10.50 now, without benefits.

But will that keep up? (Maybe if the arena is losing workers to McDonald's.) For now, the workers get an empty exhortation conflating their workplace with borough pride: "Believe in Barclays Center. Believe in Brooklyn."

And, however much these jobs pay better than those at Burger King,  the public gets misled about "living wage" jobs.

(See web site for information and application instructions. Note that some previous examples of the web site did not specify wages.)

Barclays Center Jobs 
Part-time ≠ living wage

As noted, the arena jobs are part time, while a "living wage" to afford the basic necessities of life is predicated on a 40-hour week.

Arena officials, though they talk up local hiring, have long refused to specify or even estimate the average number of hours for each worker.

After company officials said the then-2000 total jobs represented 1240 full-time equivalent workers, I calculated that meant 23.6 hours a week for part-timers.

Developer Bruce Ratner has said that "we pay a good wage" and the part-time jobs allow people "to have a good paying part-time job and a good paying full-time job. Or two part time jobs. Plus they can pick their hours."

Well, not quite; as the web site states, the jobs require "flexible hours, including weeknights, weekends, and holidays."

Is $10 living wage? Nope

Officials have long been cagey about compensation. When queried in October 2013 about starting wages, Terence Kelly, the arena's community relations manager, responded, "I can't answer that."

Kelly was asked by a Community Board 6 member "what percentage of the jobs pay a living wage of over $10 an hour," whether there were health care benefits, and whether workers were in a union.

"They're all above $10/hour," he responded. In doing so, he took advantage of the questioner's mischaracterization of the floor for living wage jobs. 

That floor is not $10/hour unless it comes with benefits. As noted by the web site Living Wage NYC:
Under an ideal living wage, someone who works an ordinary 40 hour per week job would be able to afford shelter, food, health care, and other basic necessities of life. Existing legislation defines a living wage in New York City as a minimum of $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 per hour without benefits.
Kelly obfuscated, saying workers get union benefits, he said. But the union doesn't provide health care to part-timers. Forest City executive Ashley Cotton previously said the jobs didn't come with benefits. 

Is that why they're using Craigslist to recruit security guards, as shown in the graphic at right?

Is $12 > living wage?

While legislation may define living wage at $11.50/hour without benefits, that doesn't mean that the $12 starting salary for certain Barclays Center jobs will suffice.

Consider the Living Wage Calculator from MIT. In October 2013, the living wage in Brooklyn for a single adult working 40 hours a week was $12.75. Now, as shown in the screenshot below, it's $14.30. It only goes to $10 when both adults are working.

The pitch, and the details

Some details on the jobs, below, all of which are part time.

Arena Operations Positions pay at least $12/hour, or more with specialized skills and experience:
  • Guest Services Usher Ticket Taker:
  • Licensed Security Officer
  • Facilities Crew Member
  • Janitorial/Housekeeping Team
Food and Beverage Service Positions

Entry-level Food Service (Concession Cashier and Counter Server) positions pay $10.50-$11/hour, while positions pay at least $12/hour, or more with specialized skills and experience. Some positions are tip-based:
  • Concession Cashier (entry-level)
  • Concession Counter Server (entry-level)
  • Food Service Supervisor
  • Suite Server, Food Runner
  • Warehouse Team, Pantry Coordinator
Culinary Positions require experience and pay at least $15/hour, or more with specialized skills and experience:
  • Line/Prep Cook
  • Lead Cook
  • Utility Dishwasher
The web site


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