Oaklanders are being asked to vote in November for a $600-million infrastructure bond to enhance streets, sidewalks, lighting and sewers.
But is the City Council willing step up to guarantee before November that the jobs created by this local tax money will go to hire Oakland residents, especially unemployed and underemployed Black workers?
That was the question asked this week by residents who attended the Thursday meeting of City Council’s Rules and Legislation Committee to ask councilmembers to place a resolution on the council agenda for an ordinance that requires city money to be spent to hire Oakland residents.
Such a resolution was approved by the council in 2008 but was never implemented. A provision of this policy would require the hiring of workers in zip codes with the highest levels of joblessness.
The city’s present local hiring rules are ineffective in producing jobs for Oakland workers and in particular for Black workers, according to community members.
Currently, African Americans make up 28 percent of the city’s population but obtain only 5 percent of the employment hours on most city-funded projects.
“In 2008, there was a resolution that was proposed to create a citywide jobs policy that would mitigate the negative impact of the lack of a local hire for Oakland residents and particularly for African American residents” who have an extraordinarily high rate of unemployment, said Carroll Fife, a leader of the Post Salon Community Assembly, the Oakland Alliance and the Oakland Justice Coalition.
“We are asking you with urgency” to put the resolution on the City Council agenda “so we will know whether or not to support an infrastructure bond,” she said, emphasizing that the council must act before the November election.
Noni Session, District 3 City Council candidate, called on council members to understand the urgency of the need to put Oaklanders to work.
“Good government en- tails more than just profit seeking,” she said. “Profit- making alone as a municipality has led to where we find ourselves today – with insecure housing, a general feeling of scarcity and the disintegration of our social fabric in Oakland.”
“As a City Council, you have a charge to incorporate social responsibility into our city principles, particularly into our business principles,” she said.
Agreeing with the words of Noni Session, Post publisher Paul Cobb also thanked Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Desley Brooks for supporting the community request for the City Council to pass a strong jobs ordinance.
People in Oakland are talking about “whether or not they should vote for ballot measures that cause them to pay more taxes while the jobs that flow from those (tax monies) go to residents outside the city,” said Cobb.
At a meeting last Sunday, the Oakland Post Salon Community Assembly agreed unanimously to urge the City Council to resurrect and implement the city’s 2008 jobs policy.
The resolution to put the jobs policy on the City Council agenda will come up again at the council’s Rules and Legislation Committee, next Thursday, Sep. 22, at 10:45 a.m. in City Council Chambers.