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Protect Which House? Under Armour Pushing Anti-Wage, Anti-Worker Agenda on Baltimore Project

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Sagamore Development, a company owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, is asking the city of Baltimore for $660 million in bonds for a massive development in Port Covington. But City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has indicated that he wants the developers to reach an agreement with local labor unions before approving public financing for the $5.5 billion project.

Sagamore has proposed paying prevailing wages on a quarter of the project, positioning the “offer” as some kind of concession to union demands. This despite the fact that developers are required to pay the prevailing wages for work on all large city projects:

Sagamore has offered to pay prevailing wages — about equal to union wages — on a quarter of the infrastructure work on the site. But some unions say that’s not good enough. They want the company to guarantee higher portions of the work are dedicated for union employees. 

The group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) is demanding a public profit-sharing agreement between the developer and the city, a 51 percent local hiring guarantee for all jobs related to the deal and a commitment that the city be reimbursed any state school aid it loses because the project increases local wealth, a factor in the state’s formula for determining aid.

In a particularly underhanded move, Sagamore has suggested that a Project Labor Agreement would be bad for minority groups. PLAs, however, feature strong protections for women, minorities, and veterans. Contrary to Sagamore’s spin, this type of agreement may be the only way to ensure fairness on the project:

The proposed community benefits agreement, the work of a city-wide community coalition, specifically includes a “contractor boot camp” — a six-week program to provide small contractors with the necessary tools to improve their competitive capacity. It is explicitly intended to expand Baltimore’s pool of minority-and-women-owned contracting firms.

Secondly, the proposed collective bargaining agreement is designed to promote career training pathways via apprenticeship-readiness and formal apprenticeship education for Baltimore residents — especially minorities, women and military veterans.

The 266-acre waterfront development would be the largest in the city’s history, both physically and financially. It would include restaurants, shops, housing, a manufacturing plant, and new headquarters for Under Armour.


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