Essay: ‘One Job Should Be Enough’ Concession Workers at Barclays Fight for a Fair Contract
“One job should be enough.” That was the chant and ideal that rang out last Thursday as concession workers at Barclays Center held a rally to push for better pay, better healthcare coverage, and respect from their employer, Levy. Levy and the Barclays Center have been in partnership for close to a decade and figure to continue working together for the foreseeable future.
Since last August, concession workers at Barclays Center have been working without a contract. Negotiations had been ongoing, but talks recently broke off. With that break, a lot of critical issues have yet to be resolved. Only 10% of the workforce is able to receive health coverage through their employer. Workers have to work 30 hours a week in order to qualify for the company’s insurance coverage, and the overwhelming majority don’t get enough to qualify.
Various positions don’t get paid more than $19 an hour, and in a city where funding for social services has been cut and rental prices continue to rise, it leaves Levy workers in an especially precarious position. To make ends meet, workers have taken on extra jobs just to have enough to get by. When large organizations don’t pay workers suitable wages, it puts a strain not only on the individuals and their families, but on the increasingly scarce safety net thousands of New Yorkers are relying on.
“I hope these young people that come in [to the NBA] value the people that work under them, value unions because they may be in a position like this where they need to fight for their rights and fight for their wages," said Barclays worker Lashawn Saunders. "They may get injured and they need to fight to be on a team and to show that they’re good. And that’s all that we’re doing. We’re valuable, we’re more than cashiers, we’re more than bussers and counters. We provide a great experience in this building. So that’s why we’re out here. We deserve affordable health insurance and we deserve better wages.”
The workers, who are members of UNITE HERE! Local 100, have set a strike authorization vote for July 17 if negotiations don’t lead towards a fair contract. Read more from Brian Fleurantin's essay in SB Nation's Nets Daily.