Business & Economy

NFL in LA: How organized labor and Inglewood stadium developers struck a deal

"I don't think there was necessarily a big sticking point, but these are in some ways complicated agreements and they take time to complete," said Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
Ben Bergman/KPCC

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The powerful umbrella group of unions – the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor – threatened to delay construction of Inglewood’s NFL stadium if its terms were not met by Thursday afternoon. That was the deadline for the union to submit the signatures it was collecting over the past few weeks that could have required a citywide vote on the stadium.

After announcing an agreement with stadium developers shortly before the deadline, labor has quickly gone from stadium adversary to ally. 

"I don't think there was necessarily a big sticking point, but these are, in some ways, complicated agreements and they take time to complete," said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Developers always promised to use union workers during construction, but Hicks wanted it in writing.

“We went ahead and got the project labor agreement completed,” Hicks said in a phone interview Friday. "That's the difference between conceptual language being in an initiative and that actually being carried out."

The Federation also got a guarantee that nearly all jobs will be union once the stadium is up running – including janitors, trash collectors, and parking attendants.

"So virtually every jurisdiction connected to the property – specifically with the stadium and the arts center – are covered," said Hicks.

Asked about exceptions, Hicks cited community events at the 6,000-seat theater. 

Stadium developers not only had to appease Hicks, but also Inglewood residents. To that end, developers set a goal that 35 percent of jobs would be union.

Hicks says hiring union and local isn’t in conflict – as critics have claimed – because there are upwards of 12,000 union members already living in Inglewood.

"We are only assuring that those local jobs are good jobs," said Hicks.