Most Barclays Center Jobs Are Part-Time With No Benefits

By Leslie Albrecht on February 15, 2013 7:29am 

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Mayor Michael Bloomberg listed the Barclays Center's economic impact at the top of his administration's achievements in his State of the City speech Thursday, but most jobs at the new arena are part-time and don't come with benefits, arena officials said recently.

Bloomberg highlighted the 2,000 permanent jobs created by the new arena in his final State of the City address, which was delivered at the Barclays Center. The mayor noted that some 30 percent of Barclays Center employees are, like part owner Jay-Z once was, residents of public housing.

All told, 75 percent of the arena's employees are Brooklynites, Bloomberg said.

But of the 2,000 positions, only 100 are full-time jobs. The rest are part-time positions that don't offer health insurance, said Forest City Ratner Companies spokeswoman Ashley Cotton at a recent public meeting about the arena's impact on the surrounding area. Cotton, however, added that most employees in the building are members of the SEIU 32BJ union.

"There are no health benefits because they're part-time employees," Cotton said. "However, we feel, and hopefully they do too, that there's a benefit to being part of a union.”

Of the arena's employees, about 200 work in housekeeping, 800 work in facilities management and 900 work for Levy Restaurants, the company that handles food concessions at the arena, said Barclays Center community affairs manager Terence Kelly. He didn't say how much jobs at the arena pay, but added that the building is "union-friendly" because officials "wanted to make sure hourly wages were competitive with the local market."

Before the Barclays Center opened, arena officials made an aggressive push to hire locally, hosting job fairs that targeted the neighborhoods surrounding the arena and NYCHA developments.

The 18,000-seat venue has been open nearly five months and has hosted high-profile acts like The Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber, Barbra Streisand and Jay-Z.

Gib Veconi of the neighborhood advocacy group Brooklyn Speaks said that while the jobs are a welcome change for unemployed Brooklynites, the number and quality of jobs at the Barclays Center don't measure up to what was originally promised, and pale in comparison to the amount of public subsidies the arena received.

The city's Independent Budget Office has calculated that the arena received about $750 million in direct and indirect taxpayer-funded subsidies, Veconi said.

"If you divide that by 2,000 jobs, that's $375,000 a job," Veconi said. "When you look at it in that light, does that seem like it measures up to what the public put into the project? No. You would hope that we created permanent full-time jobs that could support a family for $375,000 of the public's money."

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