Port of Oakland agreement may be a national model for local hiring
Oakland, Calif. – November 15, 2017: Community leaders said today 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," said 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 last week announced 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 project: 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,” said 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," said 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 said the Seaport Logistics Complex project would create hundreds of jobs. They’ll be divided between construction work and ongoing warehouse-type operations jobs.