Local union officials joined Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen as she asked Belmont arena project developers to sign a Project Labor Agreement to curb hiring for local union workers at Belmont Park. As part of the proposed agreement, Empire State Development and New York Arena Partners and local unions would also conduct job training and recruitment programs for local residents living in Elmont, Floral Park and Hempstead.
“Our goal in the Town of Hempstead is to ensure that as many of these jobs as possible are kept right here on Long Island and the communities that will eventually live with the redevelopment,” Gillen said. “We want to make sure Long Islanders and people who know our community best, and who take pride in our community, are doing the work because we believe they are the most committed and most qualified to seeing that the best product is built.”
The proposed arena project is expected to generate more than 12,000 construction jobs and about 3,000 permanent jobs in the arena and retail village. Nassau-Suffolk Buildings Trade Council President Matthew Aracich said his organization was in positive talks with Sterling Project Development, one of the project developers, and the Trades Council has agreed to conduct recruitment and apprenticeship efforts through job fairs at Uniondale, the Village of Hempstead and the Elmont School District. Aracich added that these opportunities would help young Long Islanders gain a steady income and stop them from moving somewhere elsewhere to make a living.
“These programs entail a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and technical aspects of skilled occupations and have shown tremendous results in opening the door for younger people to access vocational training,” Aracich said.
Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso also believed that the majority of the work at the arena project should be handled by local workers, and that the new jobs would help young residents entering the workforce build a resume and professional connections. He added that with the Project Labor Agreement, the arena would be able to be done “on time and on budget.”
“This is how we get work done,” he said. “This is our future and the future of Nassau County.”
Although Empire State Development has repeatedly stated that it would push developers to hire locally, no set numbers have been announced yet. The public hearings over the arena project begin on Jan. 8, at 6 p.m., at the Elmont Memorial Library. The following meetings will take place on Jan. 9, at 4 p.m., and Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.