Union members and labor leaders gathered at the Alameda County Labor Council office on Monday to voice their support for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and their opposition to the effort to recall her.
Josie Camacho, the head of the labor council, which represents 120 unions in the county, said the recall effort would be a financial drain on the city and that its resources should be put towards creating more jobs. Camacho called the effort to recall Quan “outrageous” and “ridiculous” and “an extreme waste of resources for our city.”
“We don’t need this kind of disruption,” Camacho said, “and we need to stop it.”
On December 7, the Oakland city clerk certified a recall petition filed by Oakland Post photographer Gene Hazzard that allows his group to begin gathering the 19,811 signatures needed that must be submitted before May 14. That figure represents ten percent of Oakland’s registered voters. Volunteers from the Committee to Recall Jean Quan and Restore Oakland began canvassing Oakland neighborhoods and collecting signatures last week. A second recall petition was also filed with the city clerk shortly after by a group led by Greg Harland, who ran against Quan for mayor in 2010. That petition has yet to be certified, though.
Quan, who has been in office for less than a year, has received heavy criticism for her handling of the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of city hall. According to the text of the recall petition filed with the city clerk, the recall effort is because Quan has ignored the city’s “most pressing issue: public safety“ while also not doing enough to limit unemployment in the city and attract new development. “The management of these requisite elements requires a competent, adept civic leader with a vision of a vibrant, prosperous and safe Oakland,” the petition reads. “We have no confidence in her ability to lead, listen or collaborate.”
Camacho said the recall effort isn’t supported by any unions in the county, and the labor council has been reaching out to community groups like the Block by Block Neighborhood Organization and local businesses who also oppose it. Camacho said while the labor council “committed to fighting this recall in any way (it) can,” it was up to individual union organizations to decide on the best way to do that.
Camacho was joined on a panel at the labor council office that included International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local Union 595, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the Sailors Union of the Pacific and UNITE HERE 2850, which represents hotel and food service workers. Union members were also in the audience, some wearing official clothing, like windbreakers bearing the logo of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
The recall effort is “detrimental to working people” said Jazy Bonilla, a painter representing the painters’ council. “We need to unite, we need to create jobs and move ahead,” Bonilla said. “Not create factional political battles when we need [work] hours for the people of Alameda County.”
Quan’s spokesperson, Susan Piper, said in a phone interview the mayor was pleased that the labor council agreed with her position that the recall effort is “divisive.” Piper said Quan has been focused on bringing jobs to Oakland and reduce crime. “I think they realize it’s only been 11 months, and this work takes time,” Piper said.
Some believe the mayor has had more than enough time. Charles Pine, the spokesman for the Recall and Restore group, which supports Hazzard’s petition, said the reason for the campaign is because Quan has “led this city into one disaster after another,” mentioning the resignation of popular Chief of Police Anthony Batts, cuts in basic services, the failed parcel tax measure she championed, and her handling of Occupy Oakland. “The thought of three more years of this is just not acceptable for Oakland,” Pine said.
Many of those present at the labor council offices disagreed. Tom Manley, an account clerk with city for nearly 30 years and a member of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, was in the audience, wearing a jean shirt that featured the stitched IFPTU insignia on one side and a “Jean Quan for Mayor 2010” button pinned to the other side.
Manley said he supports Quan because in his three decades living in Oakland, he has never seen a mayor so visible in the community and so willing to meet with residents at neighborhood meetings, cleanups and gatherings. “I don’t remember any other mayor doing so much in trying to find out from the community, not telling the community, what they would like to see in their neighborhoods,” Manley said. “This is a person that is pro-community, and that takes my heart.”