MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks say they are busing in hundreds of service workers from out of state to be fully-staffed for the NBA Finals.
Bucks’ President Peter Feigin said the service industry labor shortage has the team going to great lengths to find employees.
The hype around the Bucks playing in the NBA Finals brought more than 40,000 to Fiserv Forum and the Deer District for Game 3 on Sunday, and the same is expected Wednesday night, but Feigin said finding enough workers to service the massive crowds has been a major challenge.
“We’re in a hole, and it’s timing,” he said.
During an event with the Milwaukee Business Journal Tuesday morning, Feigin said the quick turnaround to find hundreds of additional workers has the team resorting to busing in staff who typically work at the United Center in Chicago.
Feigin said the team is also offering special incentives to hospitality employees who make the trip from Iowa and Minnesota.
Feigin said the organization is looking for people who already know how to do the job since there isn’t enough time to properly train them.
“You wish you could plan for this in a big way, but there’s a massive labor shortage and we’re trying to get through this,” he said.
The labor shortage isn’t just a Milwaukee Bucks issue. Jim Pitman with the Phoenix Suns said they’re dealing with the same problem.
“Our concessions area is busing people in from Los Angeles,” he said. "Fortunately, the L.A. teams aren’t playing, so they have the opportunity to bring that staff in.”
Mark Kass with the Milwaukee Business Journal said the teams’ worker shortages come as no surprise.
“We’ve heard this story for months about how hard it is to get employees,” he said. “People are going to great lengths to find employees, whether it’s having higher wages, whether it’s closing more days, whether it’s just trying new things. It’s crazy out there trying to find employees.”
According to a recent survey by joblist.com, half of the participants said they would not go back to their previous service or hospitality job. A third of the participants said they wouldn’t even consider re-entering the industry.
Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Organization President Peter Rickman said many service workers are looking elsewhere to find better pay, hours and benefits.
“The hospitality industry labor market is based upon people working two, three part-time jobs, and so folks have gotten fed up with that approach,” he said. “People are saying not only do we need higher wages, something closer to a living wage, but we need healthcare, we need a pension, we need dignity, rights and respect on the job.”
Rickman said his organization represents about 1,000 service and hospitality workers at Fiserv Forum. He said the worker shortage amid the NBA Finals extends to food and beverage, security and retail.