The AB&I Foundry observed its 113th year in business by inviting their neighbors to join in a celebration of their century long tenure in Oakland on Aug. 17.
The open house was attended by elected officials, union representatives and a variety of community members, like Pastor LJ Jennings of Kingdom Builders Christian Fellowship.
“One hundred thirteen years! That is an amazing legacy, of great working-class jobs that pay a family supporting wage,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“I am very excited to work alongside of you to make sure that you are here for many centuries to come,” Schaaf said.
Michael Lowe, the general manager of the foundry said the foundry employs 225 people with high-paying, blue-and green-collar union jobs. This includes 80 families that live in east Oakland and many more that live in other parts of the city.
AB&I, located at 7825 San Leandro St., Oakland, takes auto scraps and other metal products destined for landfill and turns them into pipe and plumbing fittings, supplying the plumbing systems for many of Oakland’s largest buildings, explained Lowe.
Established in Oakland in 1906, the foundry specialized in small iron and brass castings. Today, the company is one of the country’s largest manufacturers of cast iron drain waste and vent plumbing products.
“We want to be part of Oakland for generations to come,” Lowe said.
“To provide high-paying. union jobs that build the fabric of Oakland society. And in order to do so, we recognize that we need to provide even more value to the city,” said Lowe.
The company is actively involved in clean-up efforts to mitigate illegal dumping with community-based organizations, according to Oakland Vice Mayor Larry Reid and Council President Rebecca Kaplan.
The company also works hard to promote employment opportunities for East Oakland residents, who live in an area where unemployment rates are persistently more than double those in other parts of the city.
By promoting employment for East Oakland residents through such groups as the Men of Valor foundation, which was founded by Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts-Full Gospel Church, they are able to support job training, life skills and re-entry services for formerly incarcerated Oakland residents
AB&I’s team members have also provided countless volunteer hours at local schools, libraries, and the Alameda County Food Bank.
“You know what an important role AB&I plays in making sure that we recover the metals we use… We don’t want to waste anything,” said State Senator Nancy Skinner. “Anything that is a valuable resource, we want to use it again, again, and again. That’s how we protect our planet. That’s how we protect our people. That’s what AB&I Foundry does.”
California’s air quality and environmental regulatory requirements are among the toughest in the country, said an AB&I spokesperson. He cited their use of state-of-the-art pollution control technology as a basis for the foundry to meet and, in most cases, exceed California’s strict standards.
“Here at AB&I, we are able to provide growth and development opportunities through jobs where engaged, motivated, and ambitious people have the ability to learn and develop strong trade skills in manufacturing right here in Oakland,” said Kurt Winter, Executive Vice President of the McWane Plumbing Group, parent company of AB&I Foundry.