As the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sport Center approaches its scheduled opening this fall, the Milwaukee Bucks are getting ready to start hiring employees for it. On Friday, with the Alliance for Good Jobs, the team announced the launch of a new labor organization for the arena district, and part of the innovative agreement is a wage floor of $12.50 per hour.
The group, the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (or MASH), will serve as a hub to recruit, train and place workers in jobs in the arena development area and connect them with employers covered by the partnership. MASH’s creation advances the Bucks’ commitment to upholding high-quality job standards, including hiring union-represented employees and paying them at least $12 an hour, a promise the team made to state lawmakers in 2015 when it received $250 million in public funding for the new arena.
During the announcement at Amalgamated Transit Union, Bucks and MASH officials touted the benefits of the agreement – particularly workers’ right to form a union and the higher wage floor of $12.50, which increases by 50 cents every year until it reaches $15 in 2023. By comparison, the national hourly minimum rate is $7.25.
"Through this partnership we’re continuing to create jobs that pay family-supporting wages, while providing opportunities for those living in the hardest-hit districts in the city," said Alex Lasry, the Bucks’ senior vice president, in a news release. "As we’ve consistently said, this project will benefit the entire city, not just Downtown."
Lasry said the Bucks will hire approximately 1,000 full- and part-time employees for jobs in and around the venue, which is slated to host concerts in September.
As part of the agreement, all service and hospitality jobs in the arena district must be filled through MASH, which will work with employers to screen and train people specifically for those positions. Another provision is that half of all arena-district hires will by residents living in "targeted ZIP codes … hit hardest by low wages and high unemployment." According to the Alliance for Good Jobs, those ZIP codes are 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53210, 53212 (within Milwaukee city limits), 53215, 53216, 53218 and 53221 north of Howard Avenue.
"As an organization of service and hospitality workers, MASH will work at the intersection of employer and worker needs to address the challenges they face and transform employment, the industry and our community," said Peter Rickman, executive director of MASH.
In addition, Rickman said, MASH aims to transform the local service industry by improving retention and reducing turnover for employers through workforce development programs, while also providing employees a career ladder to better jobs.
"MASH means my life will be changed with higher wages and a real career," said Jeffrey Greer, a lifelong Milwaukee resident who works in property services at the BMO Harris Bradley Center and Miller Park. "For the first time in my life I believe I can start a family and retire someday."
Recruitment for arena district jobs starting in June began immediately on Friday, and over the coming weeks MASH will announce job fairs to be hosted in the spring. For more information or to apply, visit MASHworkers.org.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.