- The Port of Oakland, working with CenterPoint Properties, hopes to develop the former Oakland Army base as a cargo warehouse that would provide living wages, require local hiring and prohibit employers from discriminating based on some prior criminal convictions, The Mercury News reported last week.
- A proposed agreement between the Port and the developer establishes a pay rate of $13.32 per hour with benefits, or $15.31 per hour without benefits, which applies to all warehouse employers. In Oakland, the minimum wage is $12.86; in California, it’s $10.50.
- If passed, the agreement would also require employers hire at least 50% of staff from Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda or San Leandro, CA. A further 25%, which could overlap with local hires, must be “disadvantaged” applicants with barriers to employment such as emerging from foster care, being veterans of the military, chronically unemployed, the formerly incarcerated or recipients of public welfare.
The Port of Oakland could serve as a model for successful sustainability initiatives.
West coast ports tend to be at the forefront of new initiatives, such as lowering emissions among major shipping lines, as well as serving as the locus for Toyota's intent to build hydrogen-fuel-cell trucks in an effort to reduce idling exhaust at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. So too has the Port of Oakland worked to reduce pollution, succeeding in reducing truck emissions by 98% and ship emissions by 75%.
Now, the Port of Oakland is expanding its sustainable credential to hiring requirements while bolstering its support of the community. By hiring local and disadvantaged applicants, however, the port ensures it has a long-term labor base for its operations. In addition, the move will also help garner support for its expansion from the community, which can at time challenge port expansions with claims of uneven economic development and excess pollution.
If ports are to remain competitive, they must continue to look for ways to expand and develop. Having the state and community on your side could help expedite this process.