Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Fiserv Forum Workers to Get $15/Hour

Bucks agree to what union hails as "industry-leading, standard-setting contract".

By - Jan 29th, 2020 02:37 pm
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Fiserv Forum with Fear the Deer playoffs graphic. Image from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Fiserv Forum with Fear the Deer playoffs graphic. Image from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Milwaukee Bucks and a union representing approximately 1,000 workers at Fiserv Forum have reached an agreement on a contract that would raise wages to $15 per hour by the July 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The team had previously pledged to raise wages to $15 an hour by 2023, but the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH) had advocated for a union contract and faster raises. The agreement also establishes a grievance procedure for employment disputes and a just-cause provision for discipline and termination. Included in the contract are cost of living adjustments and longevity pay increases.

The agreement removes a potential issue during the DNC. The union, led by Peter Rickman, has become increasingly visible with the approaching Democratic National Convention. Representatives stood between shuttle buses for national media members and the arena, handing out flyers advocating for their cause earlier this month during a media walkthrough.

Rickman said he doesn’t believe the action had a substantial impact on its own. The union and Bucks had long been negotiating by that point. “I think we can all agree it was bumpy at times, but that’s how negotiations go,” said Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry at a press conference announcing the deal.

The union, in a statement, called it an “industry-leading, standard-setting contract.” Its members will vote on ratifying the deal this week. Rickman said the union’s bargaining committee unanimously approved the deal.

Union members Kenny Green and Lauren Stevens praised the union, the Bucks and their coworkers at the press conference. “We know workers are stronger when they work together,” said Stevens. “We’re all in this together,” said Green, a 13-year veteran of the Bradley Center and now Fiserv Forum. The two both stated that they hope the impact of the agreement extends beyond the arena and impacts the whole community. “I hope it creates the path for everyone in Milwaukee to make a living wage,” said Green.

Workers already earning $15 an hour or more will receive a $1.50 an hour raise starting July 1st. Arena workers were previously paid a minimum of $12.50 per hour when Fiserv Forum opened. The deal also includes a retroactive minimum wage increase to $13.50 dating back to January 1st.

The contract between MASH and the Bucks’ Deer District LLC affiliate and arena concessioner Levy Restaurants covers ushers, security, concessions workers, guest service representatives and a number of other positions. The Wisconsin Center District owns Fiserv Forum, but the arena is leased to the team. Deer District owns the development around the arena, but those businesses, including the Levy-operated MECCA bar, are not part of the contract.

MASH, formed in 2018, is a successor to the Alliance for Good Jobs. The Alliance and the team reached an agreement in 2016 that created a framework for Fiserv Forum hiring, wages and other conditions. As part of that agreement, the Bucks agreed to hire 50 percent of “end use employees” from Milwaukee zip codes hard hit by underemployment or unemployment. MASH was created as an entity to implement the deal. The union operates independently, but has received support from the Service Employees International Union.

The contract is scheduled to run through June 2023, but Rickman is optimistic that provisions of the current deal will allow a smooth transition to a future one. The new deal establishes a process for hiring and promotions, as well as creating a workgroup made up of labor and management that will meet monthly to address issues. “When we go back to the table we will have taken up the issues,” said Rickman.

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Fiserv Forum Workers to Get $15/Hour”

  1. Jhenry1131 says:

    Thank you to Alex Lasry, the Bucks, and MASH for believing that providing a living wage is both important and necessary. But beyond the wages, showing that you actually care about your employees goes a long way. This Contract has many components that will enhance the quality of life for the workers in and outside of the arena!

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