Target Field management is hoping to hire up to 150 local workers today after a decision to fill in a labor gap using outside help last weekend was widely criticized.
Delaware North Sportservice, a New-York based company that’s in charge of hiring all concession and retail workers at the stadium, took flak this week from Twins Cities black leaders after busing in out-of-state workers over the weekend at a time the state is seeing high unemployment rates among people of color.
The company bused in almost 150 employees from Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay to fill open positions during last Friday and Saturday’s home games, and the company spent up to $4,000 on transportation and lodging fees, according to estimates from management.
The move had many leaders in the black community up in arms, saying Target Field management could have hired locally, especially when so many people of color right now are in need of work. “At a time when Black unemployment in Minnesota is at 13.6 percent, Target Field managed to add insult to injury by busing in out-of-state workers from Illinois and Wisconsin to fill jobs that could be filled by local and ready workers from North and surrounding neighborhoods,” Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL Minneapolis, wrote in a statement to MinnPost.
Sen. Joe Champion, DFL Minneapolis, wrote a similar statement calling the decision “ridiculous,” and said that the resources that went toward transportation and lodging could have easily gone toward providing higher-wage jobs at the stadium that would be more attractive to the public.
But Peter Spike, general manager for Delaware North at Target Field, said the company only brought in the workers because local demand for the jobs simply wasn’t there. They’ve hired 91 percent of their applicants, Spike said, but even after hosting five job fairs they still weren’t able to find people to fill all the positions. “We’re still falling short of what’s necessary to adequately staff the building,” he said.
Last year Target Field ran into the same problem, Spike said, and they filled those open positions by contracting temp agencies to bring in temporary workers. This year they’ve decided not to move forward using the temp agencies, he said, citing quality-control issues.
“Our primary goal is to build a sustainable workforce of local workers that we can rely on and that are on our payroll,” he said. “And that we can give the necessary training to, to be able to properly serve alcohol responsibly, to give great customer service and to make sure that our safety and sanitation levels are met.”
Anthony Shields, an organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), said it’s disappointing that Delaware North didn’t reach out to them to find workers, considering their conversation last year.
After several temp workers claimed they weren’t being paid all their wages, NOC met with Delaware North on behalf of the workers to file a complaint, he said, so he knows the company is aware there’s a pool of local workers who would be interested in working there. “We know that people are trying to seek jobs,” Shields said. “Being an organization on the Northside, we interface with a lot of people who are looking for jobs.”
Spike said it’s not too late for locals to get a job at the stadium, and in fact, he hopes they get a large turnout at today’s job fair. And for anyone who misses it, he said, they’re hosting another one next Thursday to ensure they get enough applicants.
Michael Higgins, who worked the last two summers at Target Field as a temp worker for the temp agency Labor Ready, said he would have considered applying for the job last year but won’t apply this year because he no longer trusts the people running the stadium.
“I really don’t have any faith in them,” Higgins said of Delaware North. “The way they treat [temp workers.] They had all these minorities working down there … and you can’t show them the decency or the courtesy to offer them a permanent position?”
But NOC’s Shields said he hopes a lot of people of color apply for the jobs. “We see this as an opportunity,” he said. “For NOC and other community organizations to come together and figure out how to break through barriers for employment and give these jobs to local folks in our community.”
The job fairs take place at Target Field on Apr. 21 and Apr. 28 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Individuals can also apply online.