Baseball stadium should benefit the community

The Working Families Party members of the Hartford City Council have been leaders in ensuring that residents of Hartford can find good jobs. They are establishing standards for Community Benefits Agreements, and soon may ensure that any project paid for with city money hires a large portion of their workers locally.They have created the Hartford Hires Task Force, which is working to create and protect jobs for Hartford residents. They expanded the city’s living wage laws so that residents working on city projects can survive on the wages they are earning. When city budget cuts would have resulted in layoffs, the Working Families Party City Councilors lead the fight against the cuts.  The Council also passed Ban the Box legislation, which ensures that people who have a conviction in their past is not discriminated against when it comes to hiring. The proposed baseball stadium in the Downtown North neighborhood, if it is to be approved by the City Council, must continue in this tradition. Connecticut Working Families believes this project must abide by principles to positively impact the community around the stadium and the workers who will build and run the stadium including:

  • Fairly funded. This project should not primarily be funded through public money. This shouldn’t be simply a giveaway of taxpayer money to a minor league team. That is not fair to the residents of Hartford. Instead, funding should come from private sources, including the team itself.
  • Beneficial to the community. Too often major development projects like this disrupt neighborhoods and add nothing productive or positive to that neighborhood. Any new development should include products or services that local residents need and want.
  • Abide by Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wage agreements, and other labor agreements with building trades workers who will construct the new ballpark and associated properties. If the city is going to create jobs, they should be good jobs with fair wages and decent benefits.
  • Create good jobs to benefit the community. The ballpark is projected to create more than 600 full time jobs. These will be parking attendants, custodial workers, concession stand workers, ticket sellers, and more. Any jobs created after the ball park opens should be hired locally as much as possible. These jobs should pay a standard wage, and offer industry leading benefits. Again, if the city is going to create jobs, they should be good jobs with fair wages and decent benefits.
  • Athletes who play for the Hartford team should be fairly compensated. Minor league baseball players often make only $3,000 to $7,500 for a 5-month season. Any baseball team in Hartford should pay its players decent salaries and offer industry leading benefits.
  • The stadium management should agree to remain neutral if workers decide they wish to be represented by a labor union, and Card Check should be protected. If at any time in the future a group of workers decide they wish to form a union, the management of the ballpark should commit to a Labor Neutrality Agreement. This would allow workers to freely and openly discuss joining a union without interference from management.
  • Community Benefits Agreement. The Downtown North and adjacent neighborhoods must have a voice at the table as the ballpark is being developed. The developers of the ballpark should discuss and negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement with local residents that may include some of the principles in this document, as well as others the community feels is important.

The Hartford City Council has a responsibility to ensure that this, and any future project, meets these principles. We support the Working Families Party city council members as they demand that any possible stadium project is fairly financed, beneficial to the community, and creates sustainable, livable, good jobs. If the stadium project fails to live up to these ideals, it should be rejected.