Community Groups Call on UC Berkeley to Sign Community Benefits Agreement


Community members, local businesses, faith and public agencies held a rally Thursday, March 17 in front of Richmond City Hall, calling on the university Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to signa legally binding community benefits agreement.


The rally urged the university not to shortchange Richmond in the development of the Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond.


The Berkeley Global Campus is currently in the final stage of planning of whill will be the largest development to come to Richmond since World War II. Over the last three years, community leaders and partners in Richmond have organized to have a seat at the table to ensure that plans for the new campus are inclusive and beneficial to the local community.


The Raise Up Richmond coalition highlighted the following community benefits during the rally: a guarantee to high-quality union jobs for local and disadvantaged workers in Richmond, the need to include affordable housing and stability for renters and owners, the commitment to resources and educational support for Richmond’s youth, including a $3 million annual fund and opportunities for Richmond small and minority-owned businesses, with targets for local procurement.


While most of the groups are enthusiastic of the building of the Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond, there is also a concern that without guarantees, the campus could mean more poverty jobs and higher housing costs, and the displacement Richmond residents.


“When UC Berkeley builds its new campus, I want to be able to keep my family here and not be displaced. I want middle class careers for my community, not more poverty jobs” said Edith Pastrano, a Richmond resident.


UC Berkeley executives have suggested that the coalition should give up the demand against outsourcing campus service jobs, because they plan to use only contracted workers in Richmond. The coalition is against this because UC Berkeley contractors pay poverty wages and provide little or no benefits such as health care. Richmond deserves better.


In a number of statements, Chancellor Dirks has said that the university has a “commitment to work in partnership with the community to ensure all we do will benefit not research on campus and in the labs, but also will benefit Richmond itself and the larger East Bay.”


Among the organizations and leaders calling for UC Berkeley to sign a community benefits agreement are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Berkeley/North East Bay, Black Mobilization Organization Education Richmond (BMOER), Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Communities for a Better Environment and Concilio Latino.


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