By Ashley Chambers
The city is celebrating recent reports that Oakland residents have been employed for over 50 percent of the total number of hours worked on the Army Base project since the development started in September – though the total number of people hired so far does not reach the amount of new jobs that were promised in the past.
Surpassing the city’s 50 percent local hire guidelines, city staff confirms that roughly 260 people have been hired on the project thus far, 108 of those jobs going to Oakland residents.
All local jobs were full-time employment, including operating engineers, laborers, field surveyors, and other landscape and construction trades.
However, the numbers of people the project will hire do not meet the expectations of residents who were led over the last few years to believe that new jobs would reach as high as 5,000 or more. In reality, the number of new jobs to be created has deflated as the project has gotten underway.
Job seekers looking for work on the Army Base have been waiting for the opportunity to get hired, most going to the West Oakland Job Resource Center for help. While most workers are hired from union hiring halls, six to 10 people were hired directly from the job center, says Susie Suafai, Program Manager at the West Oakland Job Resource Center.
Councilmembers, including District 3 Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, were elated at the hiring results at this week’s Community and Economic Development meeting.
“The numbers are very promising,” said McElhaney. “We shouldn’t let up on our expectations [for local jobs],” specifically when it comes to hiring more skilled labor.
She added, “Jobs are one half, the other is local participation of contractors and subcontractors.”
“It’s one thing to take an unemployed person and give them the skills, but what about Turner Group Construction and the painters, people who own their business who should have the opportunity to participate in this [project]? We’re expecting 50/50 on all of it – contracting and employment,” McElhaney said.
For more information on jobs at the Army Base, contact the West Oakland Job Resource Center at (510) 419-0509.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, March 28, 2014 (www.postnewsgroup.com)