Contractors working on new arena face fines for lack of Detroit workers

The Little Caesars Arena, a $630M dollar project is supposed to be made in Detroit, supposed to made by Detroit workers.

John Perkins, a Detroit apprentice worker since the construction began says, "as a Detroiter, I do my part to give back, and I’m going to do it."

Fox 2 learned that there are some Detroiter’s working on the Red Wings next home, just not enough.

Derrick Sanders, of Local 234 says, "I think they are making the effort, and there should be more Detroiters here."

However, some of the contractors working on the arena say it's not their fault that good home grown talent in the construction field currently is hard to find.

Douglas Diggs of Heritage Development Services explains that right now there is a strong demand for work being done, but there is a smaller workforce doing the jobs.

There is good incentive to look harder on the issue.

Before the project began, the Illitch family business, Olympia Development made a deal. They get $250M dollars of public money that will go towards the project with certain conditions.

Portia Roberson, Detroit Director of Human Rights says, “based on what we give them in terms of tax abatements and other benefits, they are required to meet a 51% hiring of Detroit residents."

Each month the contractor doesn't hire a majority of workers that live in the city of Detroit, they must pay a fine. 

Roberson says that right now the city in the span of 13 months are at about $500K in fines.

That money goes into a workforce training fund that Roberson says will help train people in Detroit for future jobs.

In case you were wondering, this order requiring a percentage of workers to live in Detroit is nothing new, however, in the past ten years or so it hasn't been enforced as strictly as it should have been.

Detroit officials say that will change going forward and the city is going to great lengths to ensure that contractors are living up to their end of the bargain.

"We have compliance officers that come on site that pull pay cards and figure out addresses and residences. They look at that on a regular basis," said Roberson.

In the end, both sides say it's a mutually beneficial relationship putting Detroiters to work right now and training the workers of Detroit for tomorrow.