An hour before the San Francisco 49ers were set to take the field against the Green Bay Packers in the opening home game of the 49ers NFL 2013 season at Candlestick Park, over 150 Black contractors held a protest against he 49ers’ hiring practices for the building of the new Levi’s football stadium in Santa Clara, which is set to open next year.
< p>With signs stating “Shame on Levis,” and “Black Players Yes, Black Contractors No,” a consortium of groups called “United For Justice” marched from Executive Park Street to the front entrance of Candlestick. The contractors, representing firms from San Francisco to San Jose, held a rally at Gilman Park, directly across the street from Candlestick, to raise awareness of how the new 49er stadium is being built.
“We want the public to be aware of the facts that Black and other minority contractors have received approximately 1.6 percent of the contract dollars for the new stadium,” said Everett Glen, of the National Sports Authority, a non-profit that seeks to help level the playing field in sports through advocacy, education and entrepreneurial development.
“That’s not right and things need to change,” he said. “They couldn’t find Black contractors to help build a stadium, in which over 50 percent of the team playing in that stadium will be Black,” said Fred Jordan, head of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce.
Of the $1.5 billion spent on the new 49er stadium, Black contractors received only $25 million. Among those supporting the protest were Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church and head of the San Francisco NAACP; members of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce; and the Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce.
The lead developers for the 49ers stadium are New York based Turner Construction and Milpitas-based Devcon Construction. Glen said that besides the lack of Black contractors working on the billion-dollar project, the entire process regarding the awarding of the contract was not ethical.
“They did not have an open bid on this project, and they are using some tax payer money to build the 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara,” continued Glen. “Even if they aren’t using any public money, they are using our kids, Black players to play. They are driving the revenue.”
Clifton Burch, head of Empire Engineering and Construction Inc., a San Francisco-based construction company, called the bidding process by Turner Construction, a “backdoor move.”
“The 49ers and Turner Construction did not have an open public bid,” said Burch. “It was a negotiated contract. There were no subcontracting or local hiring goals. By the time we found out about what happened, the stadium was halfway built.”
As a result of Proposition 209, the anti-Affirmative Action law passed by California voters in 1996, most public contracts have to be “color-blind” and not use race when it comes to awarding contracts. But contractors can use small business or local hiring laws to hire subcontracting companies, which Burch says needs to be used by the 49ers and their stadium developers.
“They need to give us a piece of the work,” added Burch.
“Set local hiring goals and reach them.” Added Glen, “It is the right thing to do. The New York Giants/Jets MET Life stadium in New Jersey had close to 25 percent minority contracting and participation, and that was a privately funded stadium. It’s all about fairness.”
In the next few years, several stadium projects are slated to take place in California, including a proposed Sacramento Kings stadium in downtown Sacramento, a new Warriors Arena in San Francisco and a possible A’s Stadium in either Oakland or San Jose.
“We are watching the process to see how the money is going to be spent,” said Glen. “We are going see how the process plays its self out.”