Hospital workers block street on Labor Day,, Sept.2., at Kaiser headquarters in Oakland, protesting as strike against Kaiser Permanente nears. Photo courtesy of Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.
By Post staff
Actor Danny Glover joined thousands of workers, patients, clergy, elected leaders and community allies Monday, Sept. 2 to protest against Kaiser Permanente’s labor practices at the healthcare company’s headquarters in Oakland, as 80,000 Kaiser workers nationwide are set to strike in early October.
Following a short rally, workers marched to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, 3600 Broadway in Oakland, where 70 of them engaged in civil disobedience by blocking an intersection near the facility.
“On the one day meant to recognize working people, it’s a shame that Kaiser Permanente is attacking the same employees who made it successful in the first place,” said Isis Acevedo, a schedule maintenance clerk at Kaiser Permanente in South San Francisco. “We reject what Kaiser has become, and instead urge the corporation to join us in the fight to provide quality patient care and protect good, middle-class jobs that America needs.”
Labor Day protest in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.
Similar Labor Day protests of Kaiser Permanente workers were held in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver and Portland, Ore., where thousands more combined demonstrated against what they are calling Kaiser’s “failure to bargain in good faith.”
While Kaiser Permanente is a “non-profit,” it has reported profits of $11 billion since Jan. 1, 2017, including $5.2 billion just in the first half of 2019. In addition, it has more than $37 billion in reserves and pays at least 36 executives more than $1 million annually, led by CEO Bernard Tyson and his $16 million-a-year compensation.
The strike would begin in early October and affect more than 80,000 Kaiser Permanente employees nationwide, of which 66,000 are based in California. It would be the largest walkout since 185,000 Teamsters went on strike at United Parcel Service in 1997.
In December 2018, the National Labor Relations Board charged Kaiser Permanente with failing to bargain in good faith.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions comprises unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Their national contract with Kaiser Permanente expired Sept. 30, 2018.
Kaiser Permanente workers are bargaining to:
Restore a true worker-management partnership, and have Kaiser bargain in good faith;
Ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology;
Build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed and accredited staff in the coming years; and
Protect middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.
Bas wins $12 million for Community Land Trust affordable housing fund
Hundreds of supporters of the City Council’s modifications to Mayor Schaaf’s proposed budget filled City Hall during the council’s budget deliberations over the past month. Photo by Ken Epstein.
By Ken Epstein
Voting Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council adopted a two-year, $3.2 billion budget, partially resolving the ongoing political fight with Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration over how much of the city’s income will be directed toward services for residentsand wages for the city workers who deliver many of those services.
The new budget, named the “Oakland Together” budget, directs $87 million to priorities identified by council members and supported by community members and groups, including the ReFund Coalition, which represents a number of community organizations and city worker unions.
Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who had faced attacks from Mayor Libby Schaaf and the media for her leadership in producing the Oakland Together budget, told the Oakland Post she was pleased with what was in the new spending package but that several key issues were still unresolved.
“Even though many, many great items wereincluded in the budget we passed (Tuesday) night, I’m not celebrating yet because we are still working to finish up some very important final items, specifically, resolving the (funding) situation with our workforce development funding and issues of our own city workers.”
In a statement to the Post, Mayor Schaaf said, “I’m grateful our City Council kept the administration’s proposal as the framework for the budget it unanimously adopted last night. The last-minute augmentations still warrant close review, yet I’m pleased the Council’s unified action will allow us to make unprecedented investments in homelessness and affordable housing and to start a historic road-paving plan on July 1.”
The City Council’s changes in the Schaaf administration budget included:
• A study of Cahoots, a program that would utilize mentalhealth workers to respond to mental health crises instead of police;
• Remove the Mayor’s proposal to cut parks maintenance workers, which would have primarily impacted parks in flatland neighborhoods;
• Conduct an audit of the Oakland Police Department, which would examine police overtime costs;
• Substantial increase of homeless services;
• Some additional funding for the Private Industry Council and other workforce development;
• East Oakland healthy corner store conversions;
• Public bathrooms;
• Evening hours for permits at Planning and Building so small property owners can get timely approval of projects.
Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas said in a statement that she was pleased the council passed her proposal, the Preservation of Affordable Housing Fund (PAHF), to allocate $12 million to create a municipal fund for community land trusts and limited equity housing cooperatives to take housing off of the speculative market by acquiring and preserving rental properties with 25 or fewer units.
“This fund is a bold investment in a visionary solution that…puts (properties) permanently in the hands of Oaklanders,” said Fortunato Bas, who developed the proposal with local grassroots organizations Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action and Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT).
She emphasized that the new budget also includes programs to address Oakland’s housing, displacement, and homelessness crises, including hiring a mobile outreach team and full-time administrator focused on homelessness, creating homeless navigation centers, and expanding direct legal and emergency rent assistance for tenants.
“Our longtime neighbors are being pushed out while thousands of luxury housing units are being developed. This budget is a huge systemic opportunity to fix a crisis that is everywhere we look and only getting worse,” said Fortunato Bas. “We can’t solve it by tinkering at the margins, dedicating resources only a fraction the size of the challenges we face.”
Carroll Fife, director of Oakland ACCE and partof the Refund Oakland Community and Labor Coalition, told the Post that the coalition had realized many of the demands they had sought to achieve this year, “from funds for affordable housing and anti-displacement to additional resources to address the city’s illegal dumping epidemic.”
However, she said “There is a great deal of work to do. One budget cycle will not rectify the years of disinvestment that have impacted our most disenfranchised residents.”
Fife also called on people to support city workers in their fight for a pay raise and the filling of vacant jobs. “Vacancies in Housing and Community Development, Public Works and the Sewer department, to name a few, have direct and immediate repercussions on the entire city,” she said.
Former mayoral candidate Cat Brooks told the Post, “This is the most progressive budget Oakland has ever passed. It’s a big step in the right direction.”
But “It still does not go far enough in terms of divesting some monies from the bloated police budget and redirecting those dollars to critical needs for Oakland that actually keep us safe,” she said.
Hold Public Hearings Before Passing a Project Labor Agreement
By Paul Cobb
Black workers get only 9 percent of the work on city-funded projects, although Black people make up 25 percent of the Oakland population. The City Council is scheduled vote next week to continue or even reduce this small percentage of Black employment.
The proposal for a Project Labor Agreement (Item 13 on this week’s City Council agenda) is actually not as complicated as it sounds. For most employment you apply for a job, and if the employer discriminates you make a complaint.
With a citywide Project Labor Agreement, the construction unions decide who works and you cannot complain, if you do not belong to the construction union.
Of course, in most industries we support what unions ask for, because they are working for the common good. In the case of the construction unions, they will not disclose their membership by ethnicity, and from all the available evidence they have few Black members.
So guaranteeing them all the work is guaranteeing that Black people will have little of it.
Making this Council motion even more deceptive is the fact that it is hidden in a social justice proposal to use public land for public good. So council members and the construction trades have set up good folks to oppose an important policy on public land, because they insist on hiding a discriminatory policy on employment within it.
What should happen?
Council members (Kaplan and Guillen) should:
Separate the two issues;
Pass a strong public lands policy; and
Hold public hearings on the Project Labor Agreement so that Oaklanders can understand the issues, deliberate, and propose Oakland city policies that both protect all workers and enhance Black participation in construction.
West Oakland Health is honoring Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), with a West Oakland Health Trailblazer Award for her work as a “forward thinker in the field of health care.”
“The purpose of the …Trailblazer Award is to recognize and honor an individual who has demonstrated innovation, creativity and overcoming obstacles to meet the challenges of health care delivery in education, clinical service, public policy or community service,” according to the award letter sent to Gordon.
Gordon will receive the award at West Oakland Health’s 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Marriott Hotel, 1001 Broadway in Oakland.
Gordon co-founded WOEIP in 2003 to fight to clean up air quality in West Oakland, classified as a major “toxic hotspot.” The community is located next door the Port of Oakland, a hub for ships and diesel trucking, which produces 90 times more diesel emission participates per day compared to the state of California.
Up until the founding of WOEIP, the voices of West Oakland residents were entirely absent from the Port of Oakland’s governing process.
“I was the first member of the impacted community in over 80 years to meet at a table with Port of Oakland executives,” said Gordon said in an interview with Breathe California – California Golden Gate Public Health Partnership.
Since the launch of WOEIP, the Port of Oakland has reduced its emissions by 70 percent, and Gordon has been a principle catalyst.
West Oakland Health is a nonprofit community health center with four sites providing primary care, women, children, and infant care, behavioral health, substance abuse recovery services and an oral health program to residents of West, North and East Oakland, Emeryville and Southwest Berkeley.
City workers and police officers evict homeless residents Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6, from Housing and Dignity Village, an encampment of 13 women and children on city-owned land at Edes and South Elmhurst avenues in East Oakland. Photo by Amir Saadiq.
The following is the third part of a series profiling the new report from the Dellums Institute/Just Cities for the Housing and Dignity Project led by The Village and East Oakland Collective, Housing Oakland’s Unhoused, focuses on what we’ve all been waiting for—solutions to Oakland’s new homelessness crisis.
The Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report very powerfully establishes that the traditional approach to homelessness does not address today’s realities where the majority of the homeless only need housing, rather than intensive services, and the costs and time needed to build multi-family housing is insufficient.
Instead, the report offers innovative solutions that would result in providing safe, dignified, and affordable housing to over 2,000 people within 6 months, IF the political will in City Hall and the County exists.
Perhaps the innovativeness of the solutions comes from the fact that the Dellums Institute and the Goldman School for Public Policy partnered with unhoused people and activists from The Village and the East Oakland Collective.
This authentic participatory research model relied directly on the voices, experiences, and brilliant ideas from the people most impacted by the housing crisis. Different from most government community “input” sessions, the research findings and final recommendations were then vetted and approved by the same unhoused people and activists.
The report’s Short Term Solutions are implementable within 6 to 12 months. They include low cost and immediate housing building models such as tiny, mobile, or container homes which cost between $7,500 to $35,000 to build, including infrastructure costs.
The report states that it would cost around $23 million to immediately build 1,600 new housing units that could provide dignified housing for 2,000 people.
The report identifies specific resources that are currently available to implement this critical plan, including available public land parcels and new monies for homeless housing from the City, County, and State.
Not stopping at short-term solutions, the Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report also lays out Long Term Solutions to build 2,000 units of permanent housing for extremely low income to no income residents.
These longer term solutions include the traditional multi-family housing model that would cost a public subsidy of about $150,000 per unit.
In addition, the report recommends utilizing alternative housing models that are cheaper and faster to build such as container, modular, and prefab homes, which would range from $13,500 to $125,000 of public subsidy per unit.
The report also identifies new funds for implementing these long-term solutions such as the new County Measure A1 funds and the City’s new ballot measures increasing the real estate transfer tax on properties selling for over $2 million championed by Councilmember Dan Kalb and also the new vacant lots tax championed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.
Ultimately, the Dellums Institute’s Housing the Unhoused Report for the Housing and Dignity Project represents a call to action for all of us who care about Oakland.
No longer can we turn away from the growing homeless crisis, throwing up our hands and saying that there’s nothing we can do. There’s plenty of strategic solutions available. All it takes is political and moral leadership.
Let’s exercise our rights in a democratic society and call our elected officials to implement the Housing and Dignity Project’s solutions designed by unhoused people.
City Councilmembers this week took the “first step” to implement the “2018 Oakland Equity Indicators Report,” a recent study that provides data on racial disparities experienced by African Americans and Latinos in nearly all areas of life in Oakland, including housing, health, public safety and education.
The report, a joint project of the Resilient Oakland Office and the city’s Department of Race and Equity, was released in July. The plan now calls for the council and city departments to begin to examine policies and programs “through intentional focus on race and ethnic disparities and their root causes,” said Darlene Flynn, director of the Department of Race & Equity, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Life Enrichment Committee.
The report was funded by a $140,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation,
The ultimate goal is “fairness,” which means that “identity—such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or expression—has no detrimental effect on the distribution of resources, opportunities and outcomes for our city’s residents,” according to the report to the council submitted by Flynn.
The report will be updated each year, “measuring how much we have changed (in terms of) what our outcomes are,” because “if we keep doing things the same way we are doing them, we will keep getting the same outcomes,” Flynn said.
The report looked at Oaklanders’ quality of life based on 72 indicators in six areas: economy, education, public health, housing, public safety and neighborhood and civic life.
On a scale of 1 to 100, the report gave the city an overall average score of 33.5. The number 1 represents the highest possible inequity, while 100 represents the highest possible equity.
“This is not good news. It should also not be surprising news for people who are paying to attention to how people’s lives are going in (Oakland),” Flynn said.
“This (report) shows that race does matter. Every area that we looked showed some level of disparity by race and usually quite a bit of disparity,” she said.
One indicator, “Oakland Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity,” shows that 26.1 percent of African Americans live at or below the poverty line, while only 8.4 percent of whites are classified as poor.
In other words, “African Americans are three times more likely to live in poverty than whites,” she said.
In addition, one of five Latinos, 21.9 percent, live in poverty. Overall, the poverty rate in Oakland is 17 percent.
This pattern can be seen in nearly all of the 72 indicators: African Americans are the most “negatively impacted,” followed by Latinos, she said.
On 12 indicators, the city received a 1.0, the lowest possible score:
Education – student suspensions
Education – teaching staff representative of the student body
Public Health – child asthma emergency department visits
Public Health – substance abuse emergency department visits
A high score does not necessarily mean that an outcome is good, but that is it more equal across different groups of residents.
Flynn, who has headed the Department of Race and Equity since it was formed two years ago through the efforts of Councilmember Desley Brooks, was cautiously optimistic about what the work around the new equity report can achieve.
“This is just the first step, not the end of the story,” said Flynn, pointing out that government played a role in creating the systemic inequities that exist, and it can play a role in reversing them. “I have some level of optimism that with public will, with leadership support, with changes in strategy, we can make a difference,” she said. “By leading with race, we can make a difference.”
Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Barbara Lee with Jovanka Beckles at get-out-the-vote rally last Saturday.
Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Jovanka Beckles for Assembly District 15 following a weekend rally in Berkeley.
“While in Berkeley, I had the chance to meet with Jovanka Beckles, and I was impressed by her commitment to progressive values,” said Sanders.
“In the State Assembly, she will fight for Medicare for all, a living wage for all California workers, environmental justice and criminal justice reform,” he said. “I’m proud to support Jovanka Beckles in the 15th Assembly district.”
Sanders met with Beckles following an auditorium-packing rally with Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) in a speech excoriating President Trump. Berkeley was the final stop on his dynamic, nine-state Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tour.
The event, on the grounds of Berkeley High School at the packed 3,500-seat Berkeley Community Theater, began with a speech by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
City leaders are pledging to continue to fight for “No Coal in Oakland” after a federal judge’s recent decision overturned the City of Oakland’s ban on shipping or handling coal in the city.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria on May 15 ruled in developer Phil Tagami’s favor in his lawsuit against the City for breaching its contract by instituting the ban.
“This is a fight for environmental justice and equity. Oakland’s most vulnerable communities have unfairly suffered the burden of pollutants and foul air for too long. We will continue to fight this battle on all fronts,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Many City Council members, who voted unanimously to ban coal in 2016, are saying they will continue their efforts to keep coal out of Oakland.
Tagami’s project, the Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal (OBOT), intends to ship coal, petroleum coke, and other commodities overseas through a new terminal at the site of the currently unused Oakland Army Base.
Oaklanders pushed back, concerned about potential health risks and poor air quality that could be caused by coal dust in West Oakland—already the area most affected by pollution in the city.
The City responded the next year with a ban on the shipping and handling of coal in Oakland. Judge Chhabria’s ruling determined that the City did not have enough evidence of health risks to warrant the ban, which breached the original contract. In his 37-page decision, Chhabria stated:
“Given the record before it, the City Council was not even equipped to meaningfully guess how well these controls would mitigate emissions.”
Councilmember Dan Kalb, who co-authored the coal ban with Schaaf, said he was appalled by Chhabria’s decision.
“There is no doubt that the scientific evidence shows there are substantial safety risks and health impacts of handling and moving nine million tons of dirty coal each and every year into and out of Oakland,” he said.
No Coal in Oakland, the activist organization that sprouted in response to OBOT’s plan to ship coal, released a long-winded statement on May 16 concerning Chhabria’s ruling.
In the statement, the group acknowledged that the ruling was fact-based. It also criticized Chhabria for his lack of legislative leadership in combating climate change. During the trial, Chhabria said it was “ridiculous to suggest that this one operation resulting in the consumption of coal in other countries will, in the grand scheme of things, pose a substantial global warming-related danger to people in Oakland.”
The City could appeal the decision, but activists and news commentators raise concerns that this course of action would be costly and likely unsuccessful.
The ruling specifically found that the City had breached its contract with OBOT by instituting the unsubstantiated coal ban after the agreement was made.
The City can still issue a new ordinance, which would have to be backed up by legal standards of “substantial evidence,” that the ordinance would prevent “substantial health risks.”
Councilmember Kalb has expressed his determination to continue resisting coal at the terminal. “I will do everything in my power to stand against attacks on the health and safety of our East Bay communities. The City should do whatever it takes within the law to make sure this coal terminal never gets built. This is critical to protect our residents, our workers, and our planet,” he said.
Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Abel Guillén have also voiced their support of the fight against coal in Oakland. Tagami has not responded to a request for comment.
“The time for partial solutions and unmet promises is over,” says community activist
Trash in East Oakland
By Post staff
Facing mounting pressure to solve the illegal dumping crisis in flatland neighborhoods, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has announced a proposal that community members say is “insufficient and overly focused on enforcement as a solution.”
The East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods raised the demands April 16 at an angry community meeting of 600 flatland residents, where the mayor and city council members spoke.
“The issue of illegal dumping is an issue of access and equity,” says Chris Jackson, Congress leader from District 7. “Equity is everyone getting what they need to thrive. We expect elected leaders to support all of our demands, not the punitive ones they like best.”
Congress is demanding comprehensive solutions to what they see as a public health emergency: One new Public Works crew focused on illegal dumping, three litter enforcement officers, better lighting in chronic dumping areas, a zone-based clean-up system focused on the hotspots rather than simply reacting to complaints.
Responding, Mayor Schaaf and District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillén on Thursday announced plans to hire three litter enforcement officers. However, residents are continuing to press the mayor to meet all of the demands.
Councilmembers Desley Brooks, Annie Campbell-Washington, Noel Gallo, Abel Guillén and Rebecca Kaplan have all agreed to find funding for the demands in the mid-cycle budget review process, which occurs in June.
“We pay taxes just like residents in the hills. We want to see the same level of city services here in the flatlands,” says Congress leader Evangelina Lara of District 2. “We expect all of our demands to be met in the mid-cycle budget review process, as was promised on April 16. We intend to make sure that city officials fulfill their commitments to the community. The time for partial solutions and unmet promises is over.”
“The community’s collective work pushing city officials is creating a reaction,” says Congress leader Manuel Arias of District 5. “We will continue to organize—our children, elders, parents, all residents deserve better. No one’s children should have to walk over garbage to go to school.”
In March, the Congress of Neighborhoods held a “trash tour” that began at Mayor Schaaf’s home and visited trash hot spots in Oakland flatlands, designed to show elected leaders the difference between how the city takes care of hills and flatland streets.
Young people join protest Tuesday at the downtown Rotunda Building against Phil Tagami’s attempt to transport coal by rail through Oakland to a shipping terminal at the Oakland Army Base.
Oakland youth, clean air activists, workers and labor leaders rallied Wednesday to kick-off a boycott of Phil Tagami’s Rotunda Building in response to the developer’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland.
Tagami is suing to overturn the city’s ban on the handling and storing of coal so he can move forward with his controversial plan to ship coal from Utah to Asia through the Oakland Army Base.
The City Council banned the shipment of coal in June 2016. Tagami had originally pledged that coal would not be one of the products that would be transported through the new shipping terminals, but he later changed his position, entering a deal with corporations that own coal mines in Utah.
In response, activists are asking local businesses and organizations to boycott the Rotunda Building – an event space where progressive institutions host events – located at 300 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, near Oakland City Hall.
“This is the third time I’ve come to the Rotunda Building to tell Phil Tagami that Oakland doesn’t want dirty coal,” said Sonia Mendoza, Oakland student. “But he isn’t listening to kids like me. My best friend has asthma and has to use an inhaler.”
“She can’t always go outside and play like I can. If Phil Tagami brings coal to Oakland, more people will get asthma and other health problems. That’s why we’re boycotting – to get Tagami to listen to us,” said Mendoza
“Every dollar spent at the Rotunda Building is a dollar that Phil Tagami can use to try and force toxic coal dust on working class black and brown communities in Oakland” said Alicia Flores, a member of Teamsters 2010 and a member of the Climate Workers organizing committee.
“(This rally) put Tagami on notice that any events booked from this date forward until the day Tagami stands up for Oakland and drops the lawsuit should expect picket lines.”
Hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE also joined the boycott, raising the issue that Tagami’s Rotunda Building uses non-union labor for their events.
“Banquets held at the Rotunda Building are catered by non-union companies,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of UNITE HERE Local 2850.
“Working in the hospitality industry without a union can mean lower pay for workers, often times unaffordable healthcare, and always a lack of guaranteed contract rights,” said Huber.
“Banquet servers and hospitality workers are joining the call to boycott the Rotunda Building because we need good jobs in our community as well a healthy environment with clean air for our families to breathe.”