Monday, February 18, 2013

Unions Kick Queens Soccer Stadium to Goal Line

Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Queens were kicked one-step closer to the goal line, with three major unions announcing their support for the proposal. The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, The Hotel Trades Council, and Local 32BJ SEIU --which together count more than 200,000 members—are backing plans to build a new soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The project is a priority for the Bloomberg administration, which is offering a 35-year, $1-a-year lease, with no sales tax on construction materials, no property taxes and no revenue sharing with the city.

Last week, the union leaders said they were throwing their political weight behind the $300-million stadium project because it would create about 2,100 construction-related jobs, 160 full-time jobs and 750 part-time jobs.

The union endorsements were hardly unexpected, as Major League Soccer had indicated it would use union labor to build the 25,000-seat venue.

The soccer league has also struck an agreement with Local 100 to make it easier for stadium food service workers to organize. Nevertheless, the privately financed stadium has also become a hot button issue among community groups worried they will lose a portion of the only large park in the neighborhood.

Defenders of the project claim the stadium will also enhance a park many claim is run down and not well maintained. Major League Soccer would also be required to replace any official parkland where it builds.

The soccer league hailed the union endorsement as another step ahead. "We are thrilled to have the support of the unions who represent hundreds of thousands of working men and women," a Major League Soccer representative said. "They understand, as we do, what an important economic engine this stadium will be."

Moreover, Mayor Bloomberg agrees. "This major private investment in Queens would create thousands of quality jobs in an area of the city where economic activity is badly needed,"

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