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Coalition Demands Port of Oakland Agree to Living Wage Warehouse Jobs

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A coalition of local organizations is pushing for the Port of Oakland to create living wage jobs for Oakland residents at a logistics center the port is getting ready to build. 

 

More than six weeks of intense negotiations between the community coalition and the port have focused on the first warehouse in the project, which could produce up to 120 jobs. The warehouse, proposed to be built by CenterPoint Properties, would provide logistics space for transferring and loading cargo and distribution services on a 27-acre plot of the 185-acre Oakland Army Base parcel that belongs to the port.

 

More is at stake, however, than the local hiring agreement for jobs at this first warehouse. This agreement is likely to become the model for local hiring at other warehouses and companies that will be built on the port property, according to organizers.

 

CenterPoint is a private Chicago-based company, but it is owned by CalPERS, a state agency that manages public employee pensions, including those of many local residents who are SEIU members.

 

Members of the coalition held a public meeting last Thursday evening at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in West Oakland to report to the community on the progress of negotiations.

 

“As a community coalition, we are holding the port to their promise to do the same or better” than the jobs agreement signed by the city for its portion of the army base development, said Jahmese Myres, campaign director for the Revive! Oakland Coalition, which includes labor, community and faith-based groups.

 

What is being discussed, she said, is 50 percent local hire and 25 percent for disadvantaged workers in the port’s “local impact area,” and cities Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda and San Leandro.

 

“The port is hoping to strike a deal by Sept. 22, but there are still a lot of outstanding hot issues. We need to ramp up our organizing and our pressure on CenterPoint… to get a better deal than we did with the city,” said Myres.

 

“The port and CenterPoint need to understand that this is an issue that is not going to go away with them running out the clock,” she said.

 

Also speaking at the meeting was Margaret Gordon of OaklandWorks and West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

 

She explained that the “roots of the planned project” can be traced back to developer Phil Tagami and then Mayor Jerry Brown.

 

When the U.S. Army closed the Oakland Army Base in 1999, the land was divided between the port and the City of Oakland. Tagami won the contract to develop the city’s side of the property.

 

“All of this is public money –the roads, electrical lines, the sewers,” she said. “The developer has not had any private money doing anything – it’s free infrastructure. Now they are talking about building a (private) warehouse.

 

“The recycling companies, truck parking, warehouses – there are all jobs.”

 

Carroll Fife of OaklandWorks, who chaired the meeting, underscored the importance of winning a good jobs agreement.

 

“We have an opportunity to set a precedent on how jobs are distributed to Oakland residents,” she said. “There is an ethnic cleansing that is happening in the city right now, and we have to say we aren’t having it.”

 

Fred Pecker, secretary treasurer of warehouse union ILWU Local 6, said that many companies staff their warehouses with temp workers.

 

“You have a workforce that is always in the shadow, (workers) that do not assert their rights (because) if they do, they disappear,” he said. “We want stable jobs in the community and stable (work) standards.”

 

Kitty Kelly Epstein said that “local hire” agreements so far have not meant that Black people are getting hired. “This is our public money, and Black people are not getting jobs on city-funded projects.”

 

She said reported data show that African Americans are only getting 5 percent of construction jobs on city projects. The port and its developers need to produce demographic statistics on their projects, too, she said.

 

The coalition of organizations is holding a protest Thursday, Sept. 8 at noon to demand that the port sign a jobs and community benefit agreement with the community. The protest will be held at the meeting of the Port Commission, 530 Water St. in Oakland.

Commentary

First in a series on Jobs in Oakland City Government: Please Do No (More) Harm

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

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Gay Plair Cobb
Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.
City administration professes concern for its residents who need help with access to jobs and training, while at the same time failing to issue contracts to the community organizations that stand ready to provide needed services.
The city council approved these contracts in June. As of late September, they have not been issued by the city administration.
Q: What does this mean? A: Non-profit organizations, operating on shoestring budgets in the best of times, have been required to advance their own funds in July, August, and September to serve the unemployed, with no reimbursement by the city because as the administration says, “Your contract has not been signed yet.”
Another impact: the workers who provide front line job services may not receive their paychecks on time…. creating unnecessary instability in their own households.
And who is responsible for issuing these contracts? Yup…it’s the city…. painfully tone deaf to the needs of the community, particularly those on the economic margins. Most of those served with job help are Black and Latinx residents who consistently suffer double digit unemployment. Many are returning home after incarceration.
And for this level of harmful disregard, the city receives  28 percent of scarce job training funds. Astonishing, since the city provides no direct services to job seekers.
As Oakland struggles with its horrific crime wave, it seems that attention would be paid to root causes, joblessness being paramount among them. Instead, the city administration seems intent on hobbling the very groups who stand ready to help. This happens year after year…. with no apparent consequences to an impenetrable bureaucracy.
Oakland, we can do  better than this.
We must.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

Rosie the Riveter Trust to Celebrate History, ‘We Can Do It!’ Spirit

Tribute to storyteller and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin marking her 100th birthday

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Betty Reid Soskin/Wikimedia Commons

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is celebrating the history of the World War II home front at a September 26 gala, Making History Together. The fundraiser will highlight programs supported by the trust in collaboration with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park: Every Kid Outdoors, Rosie’s Service Corps, and a documentary about the park’s Rosie Ambassadors, currently in production.

“We have a gem of a national park located right here in Richmond, California, where visitors can come learn about the home front and hear stories told in first person. This includes women and men who worked in the Kaiser shipyards, as well as those who spent years in the internment camps during the war,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust. “The history of the home front and societal changes that transpired during World War II are important lessons to preserve and share.”

The gala will also include a special tribute to Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 in September. Soskin helped establish the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, later joining the National Park Service and becoming the oldest ranger in the national park system at 85. 

Soskin’s programs at the park’s visitor center have captivated audiences since the center opened in May 2012. During her presentations, she shares her own experiences as a young woman of color during a time when segregation and discrimination were common, adding dimension to the stories of the home front too often left out of the history books. “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering,” says Soskin in her 2019 film, “No Time to Waste.”

The gala will be held at the historic Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South (next to the park’s visitor center on the Richmond waterfront). The Craneway, which boasts a fabulous view of San Francisco, is the former Ford Assembly Plant where some 49,000 tanks and jeeps were assembled during the home front era. 

While individual tickets to the in-person event sold out on August 1, tickets to view the live-streamed event are still available. The event begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by a tribute to Soskin, highlights of the trust’s programs, a live auction, a Zoom afterparty, and entertainment.

Major event sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kaiser Permanente, The Marguerite Fund, Chevron Richmond Refinery, Accenture, Bank of Labor, California State Pipe Trades Council, Microsoft Corp., The Honorable Barry Goode, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW Local 302, IBEW Local Union 595, and Marathon Petroleum. Event sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official partner of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, founded in 2000 in Richmond, California. The Park chronicles the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome wartime odds with the “We Can Do It!” spirit.

Event proceeds support expansion of educational programs for all ages and preservation of historical resources for the Bay Area and the nation.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the trust’s web site at www.rosietheriveter.org. For sponsorships, contact Executive Director Sarah Pritchard, at 510-507-2276, or by email at sarah@rosietheriveter.org.

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Business

100 Diverse-Owned Oakland Businesses Could Receive a $10,000 Grant from Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

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Comcast RISE/Courtesy of Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

To be eligible for the grant, businesses must:

• Have established business operations for 3 or more years

• Have one to 25 employees

• Be based within Oakland, California city limits

The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE – which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment – a multiyear, multi-faceted initiative launched in 2020 to provide people of color-owned small businesses the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. If a business is not eligible for the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, applications are also open for marketing and technology services. In fact, 228 businesses in California have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients.

“Like many others, my small business was impacted by the pandemic. Thanks to the Comcast RISE program, I can reach new audiences,” said Judi Townsend, owner of Mannequin Madness and Oakland resident. She has benefited from the program twice, once with the production and placement of a TV commercial and then with a technology makeover.

“The application process was much more straight forward than other grants. I encourage my fellow eligible business owners to apply for the grant and the other benefits.” To help drive outreach and awareness about Comcast RISE and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded a $50,000 grant to the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“The economic effects of the global pandemic have been felt worldwide, including significant impacts here in Oakland,” said Barbara Leslie, President & CEO, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. We know that our small, local, woman-owned and Black, Indigenous and People Of Color businesses – who are responsible for creating the beautiful tapestry we call home – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. We applaud Comcast’s vision, through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, to ensure that small businesses that exist today can be a part of Oakland’s economic and social fabric both tomorrow and for many years to come.”

Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched last year. In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.

Grant recipients will also receive a complimentary 12-month membership to the coaching program from Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to help them build skills, gain more customers and become financially stable. Eligible businesses can apply online at www.ComcastRISE.com from October 1 through October 14, 2021 for one of the 100 $10,000 grants. More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or the marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

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