Oakland Wants to Put Local Residents to Work. What Do Developers Want?

By Paul Cobb  and Post Staff   The current plan to use the old Oakland Army Base, developed under the administration of former Mayor Dellums, will use the former base for logistics (research, warehouses, etc.)  to support an expanding Oakland port.  These uses are projected to create 8,000 new jobs. As part of the planning, City Council member, Jane Brunner, volunteered to host open discussions for everyone to define an effective local hiring policy for the proposed development. Bruner said, “Oakland has never gotten local hire right and if we don’t get it right on the Army Base we will have lost the opportunity of a lifetime.” The interests of the unemployed, the under-employed, the formerly incarcerated and the youth populations in Oakland were represented by a new coalition called, OaklandWORKS. One group that did not participate in a significant way was the proposed developers, California Capital Group, an Oakland-based real estate investment company, and AMB Properties, a global commercial developer. The CIG/AMB group said they preferred to hold comment until a finished jobs agreement was drafted. In November, 2011, Oakland City Council unanimously passed the comprehensive jobs proposal, which included a requirement that 50% of jobs at the new logistics center be held by Oakland residents. A jobs center that would connect residents to training and jobs was also defined as a critical element of success. All jobs at the base would pass through the Jobs Center and existing skills training organizations would supply workers “ready to work”. In the spring of 2012, a smaller working group began the process to make the jobs report a legally binding. Even though the proposed development could not exist without public funding, the “presumed developer” (they no longer have an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement), now called CCIG/Prologis, said, in April, they did not like parts of the city policy.   While they accepted the right of the city to demand local hiring for the publicly funded site preparation at the base, called “horizontal development”, they refused to accept such requirements for the parts of the privately funded “vertical” construction.  They also objected to requiring their future warehouse tenants to abide by the local hiring policy. The “presumed developers” now proposes a package of last-minute changes to the Jobs Agreements. These changes amount to “loopholes” that would allow contractors or future tenants at the Oakland logistics center to avoid any local hiring. A “core employee” exemption would allow contractors to import their entire workforce and avoid any local hires.   Aggregating apprentice hours worked on other jobs could lead to no apprentices, or only lower-wage, semi-skilled labor apprentices, working on the new army base development.   Their suggested “seven-day residency” rule would allow anyone after a week’s stay in a local hotel to qualify as a “local hire.” The development group refused to meet or negotiate with the OaklandWORKS community coalition and refused to sign on to a community benefits agreement if community groups were allowed to sign, too. Community organizations approached by the Post reject the idea of any project that uses Oakland land and tax dollars without bringing jobs and rights to Oakland residents.
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