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July 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Unions reiterate concerns about arena impact on industry jobs

In a prelude to today’s King County Council vote on a new Seattle sports arena, about a dozen union, shipping, business and environmental advocates gathered in the morning to reiterate concerns about the proposal’s impact on maritime industry jobs.

Jordan Royer, representing shipping lines and cargo terminal operators, called for more analysis of the arena’s impacts before council members voted on the deal. Royer said he agreed with the Seattle Planning Commission’s report last week urging caution on the arena deal because it might threaten good jobs in the Sodo industrial area.

Environmental lawyer Peter Goldman called for decision-makers to be creative and explore alternative sites such as KeyArena or the Rainier Valley, where light rail could help lessen a traffic squeeze, in an “economically distressed area that might welcome the jobs and development that would come” rather than “allowing the arena to further gentrify our industrial area.”

The run-up to Monday’s scheduled vote has unions clashing with unions. On Sunday, leaders of the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council, along with a hotel and restaurant workers union, UNITE HERE Local 8, sent out a statement blasting the longshoreman’s union and its allies for an “unethical smear campaign” opposing the arena.

The construction and hotel unions objected in particular to a mailer they said used “blatant scare tactics” in saying “The Sodo arena will bankrupt Seattle Center” among other anti-arena assertions.

Max Vekich, an official with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said today “we’re going to push back on this, we’re not going to go quietly or meekly into the night.” Vekich said he sent out maybe 500 of the mailers, which focused on questions for County Councilmembers Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert, possible swing votes on the arena. Because the effort cost less than $10,0000 Vekich said he has not registered his lobbying group, Save Our Sodo, with the county.

Larry Brown, political director for the Washington Machinist Council, called for further study of the arena. But he said that didn’t amount to pitting his union against the pro-arena ones. “They need the jobs. We support them. But those jobs should be in an appropriate area.”

Brian Robinson, an arena advocate, insisted that the arena foes should use “real facts and data” to support their concerns about lost jobs in Sodo.

 

Comments | More in Government, Politics, Sports | Topics: arena, King County

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