The Vikings Stadium deal is done, and the members of UNITE HERE Local 17 are happy about that. We are happy about the jobs that it will provide over the next few years while it’s being built and about the jobs it will provide over the next 30+ years for our members.
Local 17 represents workers in the hospitality industry, including sports arenas. When Target Field opened, there was no doubt what that did for the hospitality industry in downtown Minneapolis, with people eating at restaurants, shopping, and staying in hotels. Our union, which was hit hard in a bad economy, regained members, saw wages rise and people called back from layoff. Target Field employs as many as 800 of our members at each game, many of them coming from inner city neighborhoods where unemployment is high.
As we listened over several months to the endless debates, opinions, and commentary about the jobs that would be created once the new stadium was built, we also heard a lot of misconceptions and untruths about the type of jobs these would be. Some politicians and some labor people described them as “dead end, low wage jobs.”
We need to respect all workers and not allow politicians to look down their nose and create “jobism.” We should not be taking a position that working in a stadium or a hotel is somehow less important. Not everyone will be a teacher or a lawyer or a skilled professional, and some who are will continue to vend the beer, sell the hotdogs and work in the bars, restaurants and clubs that will be part of the new stadium.
The fact is, for each of the jobs created at the site, many more are truly created; it’s a ripple effect that could hardly be quantified. Think of it this way: for every hotdog sold, not only is the cook and the server of the hotdog working, but the person who delivered the hotdogs to the stadium. There’s a person that keeps that person’s truck running and in good tires and brakes, which someone else makes, and then there’s the farmer who raised the pigs or cows to make the hotdogs and the people who make and print the bags they come in and the makers of mustard, ketchup, pickles and onions. And let’s not forget the bakers of the buns. We could go on and on.
This is how the economy is built. One job relies on the job of another and then expands to create more jobs. It is shallow and shortsighted to claim that we are giving billionaires millions. We are giving ourselves millions in pride in our community that cannot be estimated in dollars.
– Nancy Goldman is president of Twin Cities-based UNITE HERE Local 17. Martin Goff is senior vice president of Local 17. For more information on their union and the workers it represents, go to www.uniteherelocal17.org.