Victory in Oakland: Army Base Construction Holds Promise of Jobs and New Skills for Residents

March 30, 2012 -- Partnership for Working Families

Victory after Year-Long Campaign

On February 9, 2012, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a good jobs and community benefits framework that will guide the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base project.  The passage was a victory for Revive Oakland advocates who waged a year-long campaign for a comprehensive job creation policy that would ensure local-hire goals lifted the communities impacted by the redevelopment.

Broad Community-Based Coalition Makes Difference

A diverse coalition of stakeholders convened by EBASE worked to develop consensus around key pillars of a community benefits framework that will guide the negotiations over the project.   The Council’s vote followed a well-attended public hearing featuring a powerful line up of advocates, workers, youth and neighbors seeking passage of the groundbreaking deal.

Jessamyn Sabbag with Oakland Rising cited staggering community support for the plan: 80% of Oakland voters want the Army Base project to ensure workers' rights to organize for better wages and to provide opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Endorsed Policy Framework To Guide Negotiations

The council’s actions sets in motion a groundbreaking opportunity to leverage redevelopment dollars to create skilled jobs for those often left behind in temporary low wage a job, which includes negotiation of a Community Jobs Agreement and Project Labor Agreement.  In addition to a 50% local hire goal for construction, the framework guides that all new apprentices on the project will come from Oakland and a share of the work each year will be for new apprentices.

“We are excited to see Oakland’s elected leadership supporting common sense policy that will leverage public dollars into real job opportunities for those hardest hit by the recession” said Ben Beach, legal director of the Partnership’s Community Benefits Law Center, who provided policy counsel to support the EBASE team’s campaign.

Ambitious Goals Promise New Opportunity

The policy framework also included development of a West Oakland Jobs Center ensuring long-term job pathways and training programs.  The goal of 50% local hire for long-term warehouse operations jobs, starting first with West Oakland and then other low income neighborhoods, marks the first time the city of Oakland has set local hire expectations for jobs beyond the construction phase.