In response to ongoing workforce challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, food and beverage workers at Fiserv Forum are taking steps to improve their labor contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Milwaukee Area Service & Hospitality Workers Union (MASH) announced earlier this week that 97% of its members voted in favor of amending their collective bargaining agreement, bringing “worker-driven solutions to historic labor market disruptions emergent over the past year,” MASH said in a news release.
The three-year contract went into effect in early 2020; it grants a $15 minimum hourly wage, cost of living adjustments and longevity pay increases to cooks, cashiers, bartenders, servers and other food and beverage workers employed by the arena’s concessions supplier Levy Premium Foodservice LLP and Bucks subsidiary Deer District LLC.
Halfway through its term, the agreement has been amended to include a bump in wages among “in-demand” jobs, such as cooks, dishwashers and concessions stand leads; a new gratuity format for concession workers; and improvements to workers’ scheduling procedures.
The modified agreement went into effect March 18, following months of negotiations between an elected council of MASH members and Levy management. After the council’s unanimous recommendation to ratify the tentative agreement, members had a week to cast their votes in-person or electronically, said MASH president Peter Rickman.
“Now is the time to deliver living wages, rights and dignity in the workplace, and a union contract for all hospitality workers that matches what Levy Fiserv Forum workers won,” said Rickman. “Whether in event venues, in corporate cafeterias, on college campuses, or anywhere else, the cooks, cashiers, bartenders, baristas, servers and dishwashers of the hospitality industry need a voice and a seat at the table to ensure good jobs, and to solve the labor market challenges that cannot be left to employers alone.”
The amended contract sees a $1 to $1.50 increase in hourly wages for cooks, dishwashers and concessions stand leads. Cooks will now start at $17.50 per hour, with opportunities to advance into jobs with $19 hourly wages.
MASH workers at Fiserv Forum will receive a longevity pay increase this summer as well as an additional cost of living adjustment, both as part of the original labor agreement. The recent amendment creates a tip pool for concession operations and is expected to raise hourly pay among concession workers by at least $3.
“We won this unprecedented wage increase in the middle of our contract because we have built a strong union,” said culinary department cook Anthony Steward of the contract amendment. “When workers are at the table, industry problems get solved – so let’s fix this industry with living wages and real jobs for folks like me by getting all the employers at the table like this.”
The Bucks declined to comment for this story. Levy did not respond to request for comment by press time.