As a Philadelphia area native and lifelong Eagles fan, I’m overflowing with pride in our team. Last night’s Super Bowl rewarded our city with a beautiful victory, after we endured decades of yelling at the players, live and on TV. Today, Philly fans over the world are brimming with excitement. At the same time, I can imagine how proud the men and women who built US Bank Stadium felt, witnessing the fruits of their hard labor displayed on a national stage.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the stadium during its creation. I encountered an incredible group of union members, including women leading crews of laborers, Hmong electricians, and a significant number of Black tradespeople.
Their diverse makeup is no accident. Instead, it is the result of many stakeholders unified around a vision where the stadium workforce reflected the Minneapolis community. State officials established diversity and equity goals for the workforce. And project owners, contractors, unions and community groups committed to a multi-stage plan for expanding the pipeline of diverse tradespeople. Our research revealed people of color completed over one-third of work hours, and women completed close to ten percent.
Cities and states continue to pour taxpayer dollars into stadiums and infrastructure plans, and provide tax breaks for corporate headquarters. Our communities must demand our elected officials commit to ensuring women and people of color attain open access to construction jobs created by these projects. When the work is completed with union-represented contractors, this creates apprenticeship opportunities that open the pipeline to family-sustaining careers. This requires time and resources, and a roadmap for achieving those goals. But investment in such processes serves to strengthen our communities. Now, a person of color, or a woman who secured one of these good jobs can watch the game played in US Bank Stadium and proudly say: “I built that.”