Phil Tagami Responds to Post on Facebook

Aug 8, 2014

Posted in Army Base JobsEconomic DevelopmentEqual Rights/EquityTransportation

By Ken Epstein and Ashley Chambers Master Developer Phil Tagami has responded on Facebook to a Post article questioning Oakland’s commitment to ensuring that the city’s $1.2 billion Army Base project hires local residents and overcomes the historic barriers that have kept Black workers out of good paying jobs in the construction trades.

Besides serving as the primary developer of the Oakland Global base project, Tagami was hired as the city’s agent to oversee the project. He has frequently failed to respond to questions from the Oakland Post.

According to Tagami, the city is 209 days into a “20 year development window on the project,” which will have a “66 year life.” The initial phase of the project will take five years and is “meeting and exceeding requirements,” Tagami wrote on Facebook.

Overall, he wrote, the number of hours worked total 95,515, of which Oakland residents worked 51 percent.

Phil Tagami

So far, the project has created a total of 425 jobs, 13 percent of which have gone to African Americans. In the 2010 census, 27.3 percent of the city’s population was listed as Black, which means that African Americans are more than 50 percent underrepresented on the project.

Under the Army Base community benefits agreement, the job resource center was supposed to be the clearinghouse for all jobs. Tagami wrote that in compliance with the base’s job policies, his company CCIG “utilizes the West Oakland Job Resource Center to identify and employ Oakland residents.”

However, through June, the job resource center has sent 11 workers to the Oakland Army Base.

The Post reported last week that the city sent a letter to Tagami in May saying that contractors are free to hire anyone they want after they try one time and are unable to find a local worker to fill a position at the base.

Rendering of Army Base Project

Tagami’s statistics do not indicate the racial breakdown of workers hired as journeymen and apprentices, nor does it provide a racial breakdown of workers by numbers of hours worked.

Most Oakland workers hired at previous city-funded projects were employed in the lowest paid building trades – as laborers and apprentices. In recent years, only 5 percent of journeymen hours on these city-funded developed have gone to African Americans.

Further, under the Army Base agreement, workers who are hired at the project are supposed to be listed on the city’s website along with the zip code of their residence.

With the zip codes available to public view, everyone would know if the project were meeting its local hiring goals and how many of those hired live in West Oakland, the “fence line” community that feels the social and environmental impact of living next to the base and the Port of Oakland.

That information has been slow in coming, but the city is in the process of producing a report of zip code data.

Tagami’s statement did not say how many Oakland residents who were not previously union members went to work at the base.

Four African American construction workers who received support from the Oakland Post to overcome obstacles to working at the Army Base have still not been able to find work at the development.

The Post, with help from the city, purchased equipment for the four workers and put up the money to pay union fees. The workers went to orientations and classes, filled out the forms and wrote resumes.

Ultimately, the four were told they had to go out and find a contractor who would sponsor them, and they could then go down to the union with a sponsor’s letter and be put to work.

They are still seeking a sponsor.