Union seeks details on LA’s hiring, housing plans for 2028 Olympics – Press Enterprise


The 2028 Olympics and Paralympics will once again place Los Angeles on the world stage, but a local union wants to ensure the events create decent paying hospitality jobs, promote the hiring of Black workers and preserve affordable housing in the city.

The city recently released a draft of the Olympic Games Agreement it plans to sign with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and LA28, the nonprofit responsible for financing, organizing and delivering the 2028 Games. Unite Here Local 11 says the plan — subject to City Council approval — was long in coming and is lacking in details.

“The proposals are devoid of any concrete commitments to workplace standards, and its vague gestures to ‘diversity’ and ‘opportunity’ fall far short of a commitment to good, family-sustaining jobs,” the union said.

The Local Hire Program section of the Games agreement says LA28 will create a workforce development program aimed at ensuring the local Olympics workforce is “fully representative of the diversity of Los Angeles.”

The program would promote the hiring of workers from “communities that have been historically underrepresented in the workforce or have faced barriers to employment,” the draft agreement says.

The Los Angeles City Council will vote on an agreement with LA28, the organizing committee for the 2028 Olympics. Details of the proposed agreement give an indication of the city’s priorities. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Unite Here Local 11 filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court last month seeking clarity on the city’s plans for the games — plans they claimed were shrouded in secrecy with virtually no public input.

The action targeted the city of Los Angeles and L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the city’s committee on the events.

In a recent statement, O’Farrell said the key elements he was looking for include “local hire provisions, ample small business involvement, a thoughtful and inclusive approach to arts and culture, comprehensive insurance policies and environmental impact protections.”

Dan Halden, a spokeman for O’Farrell, said the draft agreement will be discussed in an ad hoc committee when it lands on the City Council’s agenda.

“I can’t speculate on the outcome of any possible changes, or lack of changes, since the discussion has not yet been held,” he said.

The city’s ad hoc Olympics committee is scheduled to meet Monday, Nov. 29.

Unite Here also fears L.A. could worsen the region’s affordable housing shortage during the Games by converting homes and apartments into short-term rentals through an official partnership with Airbnb.

The draft agreement doesn’t address housing, the union said, despite the fact that the city is already in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis.

“My biggest fear is that we’ll experience the same problems here with housing displacement, bad jobs and security issues that every modern Olympics games have created,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11. “I worry that there will be an enormous deficit the city will have to pay.”

Reports from Tokyo this summer connected the 2020 Olympics to the demolition of public housing for elderly residents, as well as the sweeping away of unhoused people from parks, and surges in coronavirus cases.

While official figures have yet to be released, it’s estimated that the 2020 Olympics will cost Tokyo $15 billion that will mostly be paid for by Japanese taxpayers, the union said.

Preparations leading up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics also impacted local housing, Unite Here said, as the city demolished 2,000 public housing units to build the Olympic village.

In April 2019, LA28 announced an updated budget for the privately funded Olympic games, which are now expected to cost roughly $6.9 billion. That includes a $615.9 million contingency fund to cover potential cost overruns.

The games are expected to generate $2.5 billion through sponsorships and nearly $2 billion through ticket sales and hospitality venues. Additional income through licensing and merchandising, contributions from the International Olympic Committee and other revenue sources is expected to boost the total revenue to nearly $6.9 billion, making for a break-even proposition, according to InsideTheGames.biz.

The draft agreement addresses a variety of other issues, including advancement of the city’s goals for zero-carbon transportation and a youth sport partnership agreement. Other elements include accessibility to the events for people with physical disabilities, an arts and culture program that advances equity and inclusion to local artists, cultural producers and vendors, and transparency regarding details of the final Games agreement as the events draw closer.

Los Angeles was last on the Olympic world stage when it hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Unite Here attorney Zoe Tucker said the union has additional concerns regarding security and policing when the 2028 Games arrive.

“These events have a history of expanding police budgets and surveillance on poor populations,” she said.

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