FPC Live announces labor and workforce agreements for Deer District venue project

Joel Plant, CEO of Frank Productions, announces labor agreements with the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council and MASH at a press conference Monday.

Last updated on October 12th, 2022 at 02:15 pm

Madison-based concert promoter FPC Live announced Monday that it has finalized two separate labor agreements for its $50 million concert venue complex proposed for the Deer District in downtown Milwaukee.

The first is a project labor agreement with the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council and includes a partnership between Neehah-based Miron Construction Co. Inc. and Milwaukee-based JCP Construction to manage the project’s construction labor goals. The other is a labor peace agreement with the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Union, which represents the 1,000 food and beverage workers at Fiserv Forum and throughout the Deer District.

Proposed in partnership with FPC Live parent company Frank Productions and the Milwaukee Bucks, two concert venues – one with a capacity of 4,000 and the other with a capacity for 800 – would be built on the northeast section of the former Bradley Center site, south of Fiserv Forum. Despite opposition from existing Milwaukee concert venue operators, the project recently cleared its first governmental hurdle, winning a 3-2 recommendation from Milwaukee’s Plan Commission. If given the green light, the project would break ground this fall for early 2024 completion. 

“We have been steadfast from the start that these venues will be great for the city of Milwaukee, and they will be built and operated in ways that are great for its residents and workers, too,” said Joel Plant, chief executive officer of Frank Productions. “We’re excited to partner with these respected organizations to bring more opportunities to Milwaukee’s labor market and invest in the city’s future workforce through our project.” 

Plant said the project will create 150 to 200 full-time jobs during construction. Labor goals include 100% union labor, 40% of total construction labor hours allocated to city of Milwaukee residents through its Residents Preference Program, a minimum of 25% of targeted business enterprise for construction costs through the county’s TBE program, 15% of project total construction labor hours for job training and apprenticeship programs, and a 5% target for female labor participation on the construction site.

Dan Bukiewicz, president of the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council said a labor agreement was one of the first things he discussed with FPC Live execs after the project was announced. 

“They were on board. Not only that, they wanted to up the game of what a standard labor agreement is,” said Bukiewicz. “These are all commitments to the city of Milwaukee to not only make a change financially … but the commitment to make positive change here and that was all started by Bucks ownership when they came here. They didn’t just come here to build a basketball arena and play basketball.”

Officials from the Bucks, MASH, FPC Live, Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council and the City of Milwaukee at a press conference announcing labor agreements from the venue project.

Once it’s up and running, the concert venue complex would employ about 18 full-time staff and hundreds of part-time workers, said Plant. Building off the existing relationship between the Bucks and MASH, the venue would create opportunities for Deer District’s existing part-time workers to secure full-time work.

“The vast majority of service sector work in this town is part time work,” said Peter Rickman, president of MASH. “If we continue to have part-time jobs (added) at workplaces around the city, we’re never going to transform them into good jobs. the way to actually build a good union job service sector economy that delivers for working people is to connect together employment. For example, the cook who is working 25 hours a week (at Fiserv Forum) is now going to be looking at something that might employ them for 40 hours a week between the kinds of things that happen and the synergies between these buildings.”

“The bartender who is trying to piece together three part time jobs around Milwaukee is going to be able to park in one place and come to work in the same general vicinity five days a week. That’s how we turn service sector work into good, family-supporting jobs,” Rickman added.

MASH’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Bucks 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. Earlier this year, the agreement was 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.

Rendering of FPC Live’s planned concert venue complex at the Deer District.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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