By Dylan Deprey
As construction begins and the walls of the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena are being raised, so will the floor…the living wage floor, that is.
The Milwaukee Bucks have partnered with the Alliance for Good Jobs, and have committed to providing a living wage as well as first source hiring to offer jobs to disadvantaged areas of Milwaukee. The agreement would also allow arena district employees the opportunity to unionize.
“From our perspective, this agreement was a no-brainer,” Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin said during a press conference in Schlitz Park on Thursday, May 17.
The agreement sets a minimum wage of $12 per hour in 2017 and end wage of $15 per hour by 2023. This is a jump from Wisconsin’s minimum wage set now at $7.25.
It also extends to Bucks’ employees as well as those under contract with the Bucks. Any employee pushing out popcorn or pushing a broom will see a change.
This includes Jeffery Greer, an employee for Performance Clean LLC, the janitorial service that handles the Bradley Center and Miller Park.
Greer noted that this partnership was more than just a paycheck, but a sign of relief on him and his family.
“It is the difference between having to choose what bills to pay and being able to pay all the bills,” Greer said. “It means I can provide for my family with some peace of mind rather than with anxiety and instability.”
This partnership will also require 50 percent of its employees in the Bucks’ Arena District to live (at the time of hire) in particular Milwaukee zip codes with high unemployment rates.
The Alliance for Good Jobs plans to establish a “hiring hall” to be the go-to source for jobs in the arena. It will oversee the entire hiring process from recruitment to training.
Peter Rickman of the Alliance for Good Jobs tirelessly worked on striking the deal for the partnership.
“You can not undersell the impact this development is going to have on Milwaukee’s economy and our people because this truly is a transformational agreement to guarantee access to good quality jobs for the people that need them the most,” Rickman said.
According to Feigin, there are approximately 800 employees at the Bradley Center, and this number would increase to the around a thousand by the time the arena is fully operational. This would include jobs in the parking garage as well as the training facility soon to be built next to the arena on the corner of 6th and McKinley.
The Bucks’ arena district looks to transform 27 acres of mostly vacant land between N. Fourth to N. Sixth Street and W. Highland to W. Juneau Ave.
The groundbreaking for the 714,000 square foot multi-entertainment arena is scheduled for June 18.
Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton noted that although the meetings between the Common Council and Alliance for Good Jobs could get heated, creating jobs was the forefront of their decision.
“We want the Bucks’ organization to shine as an example of what can happen in other developments across this city,” Hamilton said.