Contractors building the $863 million Little Caesars Arena in Detroit have paid a total of $5.2 million in fines to the city for not employing at least 51 percent local residents in the construction of the new hockey arena, according to Crain's Detroit Business.
A Detroit ordinance requires the ratio for projects that, like the arena, are subsidized by city taxpayers. According to a city report, contractors working on the arena met the labor requirement in only five of the 30 months of construction, between April and August 2015 at the outset of construction.
However, the overall number looks far worse for PHCP work. Data shows that plumbing, as well as electrical and carpentry work, never met the 51 percent threshold in the arena’s final months as the work required more expertise.
"When a project is breaking ground and you've got people out there shoveling and moving ... you could pretty much pick up 51 percent, 52 percent laborers," said Portia Roberson, group executive for civil rights, inclusion and opportunity, whose city office enforces compliance the labor rule. "When you start going up on a scaffolding, laying a piece of iron 50 feet up in the air, it got less and less possible to find Detroiters."
The fines will go to fund worker-training efforts to get more Detroit residents in the skilled construction trades.
"The biggest thing is to grow the pipeline of people available to work for (construction companies) so they can't keep making the argument, or there is no argument to be made, that there are no Detroiters for these jobs," Roberson said.