By Ken A. Epstein
The Oakland City Council this week approved a 30-month contract that will allow a truck yard at the Oakland Army Base to move to a temporary site nearby so pollution producing big rigs can be kept off the streets of West Oakland.The truck parking business, Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS) owned by Bill Aboudi, is one of the companies that must move so the city’s Oakland Army Base development can begin in September.
Before OMSS can begin moving, however, the Port of Oakland Commission must give approval at its meeting next week
The City Council approved the move despite pressure from the Teamsters Union, which has been pushing for years to shut down the businesses operated by Aboudi, as part of a drive to unionize Port of Oakland truckers.
Union leaders attacked Aboudi for losing a nearly $1million lawsuit for not paying his workers for wages and rest breaks but offered the city no alternative to OMSS, which parks trucks and offers scales, a mini-mart, truck repairs and other services so drivers have less reason to take their big rigs out onto city streets.
Speaking at Tuesday’s council meeting, Teamsters said they had the backing of the Building Trades Council of Alameda County and the Alameda Labor Council.
“Do we have to turn the clocks back again, (where we are) asking about trucks being parked all over West Oakland – because of what the Teamsters are saying about Bill?” Asked Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, speaking to City Council members.
“I would appreciate the Teamsters coming up with an alternative plan, but I haven’t heard anything,” she said. “Let’s be real. We need an OMSS in Oakland.”
Though the Superior Court ruling was against another of Aboudi’s firms, AB Trucking, not OMSS, several councilmembers raised concerns about whether he had the ability to pay the fines.
Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said the city is not required to take immediate action regarding the court decision. Aboudi eventually will have to pay if he loses his federal court appeal, and if he cannot, the city will have to decide what do at that time.
““The court provided a remedy for the findings. And it will be for (Aboudi’s trucking company) to make good on what the court’s ruling was.”
“It is fair play,” said McElhaney. “When we mess up, we have an opportunity for restitution…. The court could have said, that it rose to a level that (the company) should no longer be in existence… That’s not what the court said.”