That’s what hundreds of Oakland’s youth and at-risk workers will have if SunCal is allowed to build nearly 1,000 homes at Oak Knoll without providing either living-wage jobs or construction trade apprenticeship opportunities for those who need them most in our city.
The Building Trades Council of Alameda County and the Alameda Labor Council oppose the Oak Knoll project unless an agreement is in place that provides for local hire, family-supporting wages, apprenticeship opportunities for at-risk workers, and other much needed community benefits.
Though a relatively small number of the construction hours needed to build the infrastructure will be under an agreement, SunCal, the Oak Knoll developer, has cut off negotiations with other unions to build Oak Knoll’s housing.
We can’t afford to have SunCal manipulate our community by offering just a small number of the projected 2,500 construction jobs needed to build Oak Knoll, to only one labor organization. More of Oakland’s qualified construction workers should have an opportunity on this site.
The projected wages for construction workers at Oak Knoll should be a concern to all of us. By SunCal’s own admission, workers at Oak Knoll will be paid an average of $35,000 a year for 2 and a half years’ worth of work, which is about $20,000 less than the median income for the city. Families who are economically self-sufficient help stabilize our neighborhoods and provide opportunities for our youth. No family can survive on that kind of salary in the East Bay’s economy.
This means that local workers are either going to have to make due with wages they can’t live on, or more likely, contractors will bus workers from out of town to build Oakland’s second-largest development.
SunCal could work with other unions and the city to hold contractors to certain standards, like requiring the hiring of a local workforce, paying family-supporting wages, and having opportunities for at-risk youth to gain entry into the construction-trade apprenticeship programs.
This would not be an unprecedented step for a developer. The Brooklyn Basin Project, the largest project in Oakland, is being built with such an agreement and a robust Community Benefits Agreement that includes on-site affordable housing. So does the large tower being built at MacArthur BART.
Our community must stand together to make sure that Oakland residents have opportunities to work and succeed. It would set an unhealthy precedent for future developers if we let SunCal and Oak Knoll contractors get away with paying and treating their workers so poorly in a city where gentrification is intensifying and the cost of living is already so high. Other developers will start to demand the same deal given to SunCal.
Oakland is seeing billions in investment dollars pouring into our city. Tremendous profits are being made. Working families must gain their fair share if Oakland will continue to be a home where families of all income levels and cultures are welcomed.
IBEW Local 595
Sheet Metal Workers Local 104
UA Sprinkler Fitters Local 483
UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 342