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Jobs agreement: a national model for local hiring

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Community leaders say that a new Port of Oakland development agreement could be a national model for local hiring. They’re hailing the plan to build a Seaport Logistics Complex that prioritizes employing workers from nearby neighborhoods.

"This agreement is part of the growing grassroots movement across the country to win locally and set in motion a wave of larger national change," says Nikki Fortunato Bas, Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families. "This is how we take back our cities, our communities and our democracy: policy by policy on the local level."

The Port announced in November 2018 plans for a 440,000-square-foot distribution center on decomissioned Oakland Army Base property. It would be the first building at the Port’s planned Seaport Logistics Complex. Central to the agreement: giving nearby residents first crack at jobs, with emphasis on hiring disadvantaged workers. There’s also a job-training component to help develop the local labor pool.

Workforce development activists negotiated the agreement over 20 months with the Port and developer CenterPoint Properties. The Port called the community’s involvement unique, and said local representatives would help monitor implementation of the job policy.

“Community leaders, CenterPoint and the Port demonstrated how large-scale development deals can offer shared benefit to our neighboring community, empower local residents and strengthen our economy,” says Port of Oakland Social Responsibility Director Amy Tharpe. “The goal is to level the playing field and provide community members, regardless of perceived barriers, with priority access to jobs and opportunity.”

Key aspects of the job agreement include:

  • Living wages and benefits for workers;
  • Priority consideration for unemployed individuals, armed forces veterans, single parents, ex-offenders and foster care adults; and
  • A ban on asking applicants about prior criminal offenses.

"This agreement will send a ripple throughout the warehousing industry as the economy transforms from brick and mortar stores to online retailing," says Jahmese Myres, Director of the community coalition Revive Oakland. "At the heart, this is about ending economic racism for Black and Brown folks who have been locked out of good jobs."

Port and CenterPoint officials say the Seaport Logistics Complex project would create hundreds of jobs. They’ll be divided between construction work and ongoing warehouse-type operations jobs.

Testimonial letter

Dear Port of Oakland Commissioners,

I hope this email finds you in good spirits. On behalf of Revive Oakland, we thank you for approving the Good Jobs Policy and Cooperation Agreement for the first warehouses on the Port's Army Base property.

We are absolutely thrilled to have worked with the Port on crafting one of the best jobs policies in the country! These groundbreaking standards will not only transform our local economy, but will act as a model for the warehousing industry across the nation.

Over the last two years, we all invested a great deal into this process (long days, late nights, missed vacations...the list goes on). It wasn't easy, and there were moments of major challenge and frustration. But, we deeply appreciate your steadfast commitment to reaching a deal that would benefit local communities of color. It is important to acknowledge that the victory is not only in the policy outcomes, but also in the process. The work we're doing together should also be seen as a model for how public, private and community stakeholders can collaborate to win!

We look forward to many more years of hard work together to make good jobs real for our people, and to continue making the Port of Oakland a model for the country.

Jahmese Myres
On behalf of Revive Oakland

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