SEIU workers ahead of NFL Draft: We are ‘the backbone of Detroit’

(Ken Coleman/Michigan Advance)

By Michigan Advance

April 25, 2024

BY KEN COLEMAN, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—A day ahead of the National Football League annual draft being held in Detroit, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 union workers held a press conference highlighting their importance to the Motor City’s success in attracting huge events.

“Arena workers have been working hard to ensure that the NFL Draft experience is one of a kind for all who will be attending. Arena workers are the backbone of Detroit,” Pam Owens-Moore, a Local 1 vice president, said during a news conference on Wednesday. “Their hard work and dedication has made the Motor City the vibrant hub that it has been known to be.”

Detroit will host the 2024 NFL Draft on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday issued a proclamation declaring April 22 to 28 as NFL Draft week in Michigan. Tourism officials estimate that as many as 400,000 visitors are expected to be in the Motor City this week.

In a separate event held later in the day, Whitmer sat on a panel discussion in downtown Detroit that was designed to address the potential impact of the set of events.

“This is an incredible opportunity to showcase what Detroit and our state have to offer. We need to start bragging about Michigan and going toe-to-toe with other states to continue growing Michigan’s economy,” Whitmer wrote on X.

Other panelists with Whitmer included: Claude Molinari, Visit Detroit vice president; Fred Durhal, a Detroit City Council member and former state House member; Peter O’Reilly, NFL Club Business, International and League Events vice president; and Sam Klemet, Michigan Association of Broadcasters president.

SEIU represents 45,000 unionized workers in six states and 11 cities across the Midwest, including janitors, security officers, school service workers, airport workers, factory workers, window washers, door staff, maintenance workers, as well as others. Some of them work in the downtown Detroit area where the NFL Draft is being held, including Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, and the Renaissance Center.

“Detroit’s sports arena workers—who are primarily Black, brown, immigrant, and women workers—often do the invisible work of ensuring sports entertainment arenas are safe, clean and sanitized, properly constructed, and well-serviced for all to enjoy,” SEIU stated in its press release.

In 2023, the city of Detroit created through ordinance the Industry Standards Board, which is designed to bring together arena workers, government officials, and employers within the industry to recommend workplace standards such as wages, employee benefits, safety, scheduling and training standards. The board is composed of union members; a member Detroit Action, a social action nonprofit; and Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield, among others.

“Creating this board would allow me and other arena workers like me to amplify our voices and address concerns we have in the workplace,” Porcha Perry, a Local 1 member said at the time. “As a single mother working three jobs, working three jobs has not been easy. I work so much, I’m often missing quality time with my kids.”

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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