The Daily News reports that 120 carpenters, upset they are not being paid as well as their Madison Square Garden counterparts, planned to vote on Wednesday to stop paying dues to their union, SEIU 32BJ. The move would be the first step in an expected move to de-certify the union.
MSG employs six to 15 full time carpenters who are paid $46 an hour and earn roughly $70,000- $80,000 a year. In addition, the world’s most famous arena has 20-40 part time carpenters, depending on arena needs.
Meanwhile, the Barclays Center carpenters are all part time workers who earn $14 an hour without benefits. Their job at Barclays is to convert the arena from a basketball venue to a concert hall. To add insult to insult, they must work 400 shows, a figure that would take four years to amass, in order to qualify for health benefits.
32BJ official Elaine Kim says that the union is working hard to improve conditions but there have been “natural growing pains” which will be resolved “as the agreement matures and the venue continues to have events.”
Many of the Barclays carpenters would like to join the New York City Distrcit Council of Carpenters, the union that represents the MSG conversion crew and helped build the new Barclays Center. The union has asked for Forest City Ratner to create several full time positions, but FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco said, “Right now, these conversion jobs are by their very nature part time.”
President of the carpenters union, Stephen McInnis, doesn’t understand. “We have a long history of working with them, but they’ve been pretty much adamant on this. They came up with an offer but it was easy to refuse. When you look at a comparable facility like The Garden, they weren’t even in the ballpark.”
No word yet on how the vote went. This isn’t the first report of Barclays center employee unrest.