At his final State of the City address yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg patted himself on the back for the heavily-subsidized Barclays Center, which was built despite intense opposition from some local residents. The arena, Bloomberg declared, created 2,000 permanent jobs, with 75% of them filled by Brooklyn residents. But what Bloomberg didn't mention is that few of those employees receive benefits.
According to an eye-opening and rather infuriating report from Leslie Albrecht at DNAinfo, out of those 2,000 jobs, only 100 are full-time positions. The 1,900 other ones are part-time jobs, and those employees get no benefits. But at least they belong to the SEIU 32BJ union? "There are no health benefits because they're part-time employees," Forest City Ratner spokesperson Ashley Cotton confirmed at a recent public meeting. "However, we feel, and hopefully they do too, that there's a benefit to being part of a union."
However, Gib Veconi of the neighborhood advocacy group Brooklyn Speaks, argues that the lack of benefits and full time employment is highly disappointing, given the fact that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars went to subsidize the Atlantic Yards project. NYC's Independent Budget Office estimates the arena received about $750 million in direct and indirect taxpayer-funded subsidies. Veconi tells DNAinfo, "If you divide that by 2,000 jobs, that's $375,000 a job. When you look at it in that light, does that seem like it measures up to what the public put into the project? No."