Building on Past Success in Oakland

June 28, 2016 -- Jamie Way

Four years ago, affiliate EBASE led its Revive Oakland coalition to a landmark victory. When the city decided to redevelop the Oakland Army Base that had sat abandoned for more than a decade, Revive Oakland mobilized the community to ensure that local residents would benefit. Under the Good Jobs Agreement, the coalition won guarantees that project employers would hire local and disadvantaged residents, as well as provide them with pathways to long-term construction careers through apprenticeship programs and long-term warehouse jobs operating the site. But the fight did not end there.

Since winning this important victory, EBASE has played an active role in enforcing the agreement and expanding on it. To ensure that the project continues to meet the requirements of the agreement, EBASE supports the West Oakland Jobs Center, which was created through the agreement and with city funds to provide opportunities to local residents. EBASE’s Executive Director, Kate O’Hara also plays an active role on the community oversight commission, which receives quarterly reports from the project’s employers. To date, the project is meeting overall hiring targets, with 50% of the more than 400,000 construction work hours being performed by local residents and 50% of the apprentice-level hours being performed by local residents with individual barriers to employment. In total, Oakland workers have brought home more than $10 million in wages since the project began.

In addition to playing an active role in enforcing the agreement, EBASE is looking to expand their win to the Port of Oakland, which is developing a similar warehousing project adjacent to the city’s project. EBASE is currently in negotiations with the Port and Chicago-based warehouse developer, Centerpoint, to ensure that access to good jobs is incorporated in the development of an anticipated 350,000 square foot warehouse. The agreement reached on this first facility will set the tone for the rest of the site. The Port’s leadership has long promised that its standards for development will be “at least as good” as the city's. Now EBASE and the Oakland community are pushing to make sure that holds true.

As the warehouses are constructed and tenants move in and start operating businesses, EBASE will have the opportunity make real the innovative policies to ensure access and job quality in the warehouses. This includes a requirement that all workers be paid a living wage as well as restrictions on the use of temporary staffing agencies, which are prevalent in warehousing and undercut job security and stability in the warehouse industry. Through this project, the group will have the opportunity to learn what it takes to ensure good jobs in the subcontracted economy that is growing throughout the country.

Learn more about EBASE’s work to bring access to good jobs to Oakland residents here.