“Rooted in Oakland” Not Just a Slogan

“Rooted in Oakland” is not just the A’s slogan—it’s their commitment.  

Last week, the team took a major step in honoring that commitment. When it announced plans to build its new ballpark at the Peralta Community College Headquarters at Laney College, the team also made a promise to work with local construction trade unions to negotiate a project labor agreement (PLA) for the building of the stadium. They not only agreed to negotiate an agreement for the stadium, but for all the ancillary work that comes from it as well. The A’s agreement to negotiate a PLA will ensure that thousands of local workers stay planted in the city.   

PLAs are collective bargaining agreements between developers and unions that establish the terms and conditions for workers employed at construction projects. For privately-financed projects like the Oakland A’s ballpark, PLAs are not required, so the A’s agreeing to work one out is a big deal, especially when construction costs in the Bay Area are the most expensive in the nation.

With a PLA, the A’s new ballpark is expected to generate 2,000 middle-class construction jobs that will include area standard wages and benefits… that’s 2,000 people, mostly local, who won’t have to worry about finding a job or affording their rents or mortgages during the construction of the new stadium. 

By agreeing to a PLA, the A’s are ensuring that construction apprentices will have opportunities to learn their crafts while being employed.  Unions make sure that their apprentices have opportunities to learn while doing, while many non-union contractors do not make that a priority. This means a whole new generation of Oaklanders will learn new skills while building the ballpark that will keep them on the job for years to come.

When future Oakland residents attend a baseball game at the stadium, or drive by it on the freeway, they will know that it was built by Oaklanders for Oakland.

Currently, there are many private developers in Oakland who simply refuse to negotiate PLAs (SunCal in the Oakland Hills being the most infamous) because of concerns over profits. In reality, PLAs can be just as much a benefit to developers and contractors as they can be to workers. PLAs guarantee contractors a pool of qualified workers fully trained in safety procedures who are less likely to get in accidents or walk off projects due to wage disputes or other disagreements. PLAs create structures that stipulate how workers can resolve their differences with contractors.

Accidents or worker strikes can cause serious delays to development projects, not to mention a major loss of profits for developers. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

The Oakland A’s are setting an example for all future developers that massive projects with PLAs in Oakland are not unreasonable—they’re possible. The A’s are showing future developers that they need to keep the community in mind when building their projects.

Let’s applaud the Oakland A’s for being rooted in Oakland.

The East Bay Residents for Responsible Development