The Port of Oakland has extended a labor deal that increases the number of minority and disadvantaged workers in the construction trades, saying the move will help prepare for post-Covid building projects.
The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners said December 24 that they had extended the port's landmark project labor agreement (PLA) that increases the hiring of local, East Bay workers for port-related capital projects.
First negotiated in 2016, the renewed PLA is a five-year contract that will also help increase the number of disadvantaged workers entering the trades and boost their earnings, port leaders said. "Our agreement specifically addresses the need to increase participation of local, minority, and disadvantaged workers," Port of Oakland Director of Social Responsibility Amy Tharpe said in a release. "It also strengthens key partnerships within industry and labor so that we can prepare our workforce for a post-pandemic construction environment.”
The announcement comes in a year that has strained relationships between minority residents and business and political leaders across the nation, triggering marches in many cities following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. In addition to criminal charges against those officers, the incident has led to peaceful work stoppages by several port workers’, longshoremen, and teamsters’ unions, calling for greater awareness of police brutality and institutionalized racism.
Many disadvantaged workers in frontline logistics jobs also warned in 2020 that they were being forced to work in dangerous conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, as they reported for shifts in “essential” jobs such as warehouse and trucking positions despite a lack of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
The port’s new PLA is a collective bargaining agreement between the public agency and local labor organizations, as authorized under the National Labor Relations Act. The Port of Oakland also created a Maritime Aviation Project Labor Agreement (MAPLA) in 1999, supporting smaller companies for jobs in maritime and aviation-related construction projects funded through the Port's Capital Improvement Program.