Sure, the construction of the new Bills Stadium will employ many construction workers, but thousands fewer than the governor claims
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have repeatedly claimed that 10,000 jobs will be created during the construction of the $1.4 billion Buffalo Bills stadium.
“I love the fact that this is the largest construction project in western New York history, with 10,000 unionized jobs,” said Hochul during a visit to Buffalo in April.
However, it appears that the stadium project will create about 6,800 direct construction jobs nationwide, not the 10,000 claimed by Hochul and Poloncarz. This lower estimate was included in a Economic impact study on behalf of the Bills.
Adding in “indirect” and “induced” jobs, which the study says would be created by stadium vendors and suppliers, and spending by stadium construction workers, does the figure reach the 10,000 mark.
That Empire State Development Corp. produced an analysis concluding that 10,000 jobs would be created. However, no distinction was made between direct and indirect jobs, and officials refused to release the underlying work used in their calculations.
The new stadium will cost county taxpayers the same as the current one
Union leaders say the project will save thousands of jobs, primarily for unionized workers in western New York. How many of these workers will come from western New York remains to be seen.
The stadium would be built under a project work contract. Non-union companies and their workers are not barred from working on the stadium project, but they would have to pay prevailing wages and work under union rules.
Critics say these requirements will discourage non-union shops from applying for stadium work. As a result, they say, construction workers are becoming non-union members They are much less likely to be hired for stadium jobs.
“You’re going to see people from outside of western New York working on this project,” he said Brian SamsonPresident of the Empire State Chapter of Associated builders and contractorsa trade group representing non-union contractors.
“Meanwhile, the vast majority of construction workers in western New York will sit on the sidelines and watch.”
A Analysis as of January 15, 2021carried out by the private consulting firm CAA ICONexamined the economic and tax implications of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the company that manages both the Bills and the Buffalo Sabers.
A chart near the end of the analysis estimates that construction of a new Bills Stadium would create 10,572 jobs statewide, including 3,972 in Erie County and 1,373 in the city of Buffalo.
Of the total nationwide jobs, 6,842 are identified in the study as ‘direct’, meaning they would be linked to the construction of the stadium itself.
Another 1,032 are marked as “indirect” jobs created by suppliers and vendors for the stadium project.
A final job category called ‘induced’ is also listed, with the analysis suggesting that 2,697 more jobs would be added to the stadium mix thanks to spending on goods and services by direct and indirect stadium workers.
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In response to questions from the Investigative Post, Hochul staffer Matthew Janiszewski said the figure of 10,000 stadium jobs repeatedly cited by the governor came from an analysis by Empire State Development Corp.
In response to a freedom of information request, the state released a half-page “Economic Impact Analysis” that estimated the new stadium would create 10,000 jobs nationwide, based on a $1.4 billion construction budget.
How did the analysis come up with this number, and how many were direct and indirect jobs? The governor’s office declined to release details.
Peter DeJesus Jr., President of the Western New York Labor Federation, AFL-CIOsaid there was no doubt the “one-off” stadium project would create “thousands and thousands” of jobs for electricians, ironworkers, steelworkers and other tradespeople.
“This is going to be a huge project, so all hands will be on deck when it comes to craftsmanship,” he said.
Paul BrownPresident of Buffalo and Niagara County Building & Construction Trades Councilnoted that the construction of the stadium will be done in phases, not all of them Workers would be on duty at the same time.
Brown said the trade council has about 14,000 members in Erie and Niagara counties and that meeting the stadium’s labor needs will be “no problem at all”.
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The unionized workforce can meet the stadium’s needs, he said, even as federally funded infrastructure projects ramp up and other major projects like the proposed Amazon warehouse in the city of Niagara move forward.
“It should just be really good for this area over the next few years,” Brown said.
Will all stadium workers be from western New York?
Sampson, chairman of the Non-union Contractors Association, doesn’t think so.
That’s how non-union contractors see it
Pursuant to the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed by the state, Erie County and the Bills, under a project work contract who set the conditions of employment for the stadium project.
Sampson estimates that 70 percent of construction workers in western New York are non-union. With a PLA, he said non-union shops will be discouraged from bidding on stadium work.
“Non-union contractors usually won’t bid on a project because it’s not fair to their workers, with some participating in the project and some not,” he said.
DeJesus noted that the PLA would not require stadium construction workers to be union members and would only guarantee that all stadium workers would receive union wages and benefits.
“Non-union contractors have the right to bid for the work as well,” he said. “A PLA sets a standard, a standard for pay and wages for this project.”
DeJesus predicted that between 90 and 95 percent of stadium construction jobs will go to people living in western New York. Because of the scale of the project, it may be necessary to seek some out-of-area workers in communities like Rochester or Syracuse.
“We have quite a lot of unionized construction trades here, but again this is a project unlike any we’ve seen before, so it’s going to be a total team effort,” he said.
Cost consequences of the collective agreement
Critics argue that the PLA is coupled with that of New York applicable wage lawincreases the cost of the project, which is partially funded by a $600 million contribution from the state and $250 million from Erie County.
peter warrenResearch director at Albany-based, conservative-leaning think tank The Empire Center for Public Policyestimates that the labor conditions associated with the Bills stadium contract will drive up construction costs by about 20 percent.
in a (n Opinion published in The Wall Street JournalWarren called the stadium deal a “handover to the unions.”
“Exactly how much the current Wage Act will add to the stadium deal is hard to say, but it’s likely to be in the hundreds of millions,” Warren wrote.
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DeJesus said he will not apologize for stadium construction workers being paid a “living wage” for work done on a project that requires hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.
“It’s a publicly funded stadium,” he said. “We spend taxpayer money on this. I would hope they want a prevailing wage, a union wage that is a standard.”
Posted 2 hours ago – September 20, 2022