After months of failed contract negotiations, Port of Oakland workers rallied outside Oakland Airport Friday to protest potential cuts to their own benefits amid allegations that port commissioners have misused public funds. “We have been bargaining with the Port for over 15 months now,” said Alfonso Loera, president of Service Workers International Union Local 1021,…

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The federal government has been collecting the Harbor Maintenance Tax from port customers for years with the specific purpose of port maintenance and dredging. When the government increased the tax in 1990, it did so with the explicit promise that all dredging needs would be met with funds collected from the tax, according to Port of Oakland’s spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur. Today, in the long, drawn-out battle over port funds, Port of Oakland officials claim the government has not released sufficient funds for maintenance over the years, and the proof is in the channels’ depths.

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The Port of Oakland just secured $18 million in federal funding for its harbor deepening project, said the port’s spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur on Wednesday. The funding is going to help the port receive maintenance dredging services from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in fiscal year 2011.

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