On Tuesday Oakland residents celebrated a breakthrough in ongoing efforts to create thousands of jobs for local workers due to construction of the planned shipping, packaging and distribution facilities at the site of the old Oakland Army base.
Dubbed the “good jobs” party, the event, organized by the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), attracted over 100 Oakland workers and residents to de Fremery Park in downtown Oakland.
The army base redevelopment project, which had seen various proposals since the base was closed 1999, has been delayed by often lengthy negotiations between developers and the city, and has drawn significant interest from resident groups as they try to maximize the community benefits entailed by the development. The redevelopment plans for this particular project were ultimately approved after four years of negotiations by the city council on June 19, 2012. (See Oakland North’s coverage of negotiations here.)
The redevelopment will be led by developer California Capital and Investment Group of Oakland. Planned facilities will be used by San Francisco-based Global Logistics and industrial real estate company Prologis.
“This is a huge victory for our town,” said EBASE program director for community benefits Kate O’Hara, who attended the party. “We are really hopeful that we have laid the groundwork so that businesses coming to Oakland can establish stable jobs for Oakland residents.”
O’Hara said their workers’ group is now pushing for the establishment of a jobs center that would serve as an information and services center for Oakland residents seeking jobs with the Army base project. The group is also hoping for the passage of an ordinance by the City of Oakland to establish a jobs oversight committee that will ensure that developers will create jobs for locals.
“We are working with the city and other community and labor partners to get the jobs center created and the city has already made headway on that,” O’Hara said. “That will be a key place where people can go and get the information they need.”
During the city’s hearings of the planned project, residents, working with EBASE, were able to secure assurances from the developer that a share of construction jobs would be reserved for new people entering the trades and that all new apprentices hired for jobs at the construction site would be Oakland residents.
City officials also agreed that each worker on the site would receive a living wage and that the use of temporary employment agencies would be limited, according to a statement released by EBASE following the city’s approval of the project.
Another much-discussed provision was an agreement that would prevent the pre-screening of formerly incarcerated job applicants for the nearly 2,000 operations jobs controlled by Prologis. However, companies that have a nationwide hiring policy in place would be exempted and can still ask applicants about their criminal record, according to EBASE.
EBASE estimates that project will create over 2,800 jobs construction jobs, as well as more jobs over a period of 20 years. The organization’s efforts have been focused on ensuring that at least 50 percent of these jobs go to Oakland residents.
“The city council will be setting up an oversight commission to ensure that the jobs standards are met,” said Andre Dadko, EBASE program director. “There are provisions for the disadvantaged and efforts to bring in Oakland residents who are new to the trades. Those are some of the key next steps.”
O’Hara said the workers and resident groups were now focused on ensuring that the Port of Oakland, which owns the other half of what used to be the Oakland Army base, adopts the same jobs policy to allow residents to secure more stable jobs.
“We would like to see consistency,” O’Hara said. “Since the city and the port both own half of the army base we want to see a consistent form of jobs standards, and see the port adopt the same standards so that there is one vision on the project.”