Oakland Global News, June 2014

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 27, 2014


Monthly Updates on the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center Project
Oakland Global News, June 2014
Dear Reader,  
Oakland Global News is a monthly newsletter for readers interested in staying current as the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center (former Oakland Army Base) project evolves.
Job Center’s First Year a Success
The West Oakland Job Resource Center’s first annual report shows that despite limited staff and resources, the center has placed a significant number of Oaklanders in jobs and referred many others to services, apprenticeships and pre-apprentice programs since March 2013.
The Job Center developed out of community meetings related the Oakland Global project and is incorporated into the project’s binding jobs policies. The center is a joint project between the City of Oakland, employers, unions, community organizations and developers.
“Given the abundance of things we all try to do here and the number of people who come through here, we are very happy with the results so far,” said Salafai Suafai, the center’s program manager.
The report, which covers the period from March 2013, when the center opened, to April 2014, shows that 625 individuals have attended orientations. Out of that number, 303 were screened for work history and interests and directed to social services, apprenticeship programs or employment. 177 individuals entered pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs, or were hired by an employer. Employers include Webcor Builders, Arc Glass Co., United Parcel Service and the Oakland Global project.
The center’s three staff people and one volunteer have handled the bulk of the center’s work, which includes four orientations each month (a fifth, just for women, will be added soon) assistance with resumes and cover letters, tutoring for apprenticeship exams, and outreach to employers. As an example, Suafai said that job seeker Ivan Ramirez, recently utilized both resume building and exam tutoring services. As a result, Ramirez was able pass a surveyor exam and ascend from journeyman carpenter to surveyor.
A driving force for the job center was to help the Oakland Global project and other contractors working with the city to meet local hiring requirements. According to a community jobs agreement, at least 50 percent of Oakland Global project work hours must be performed by local residents; for each construction trade, 20 percent of work hours must be handled by apprentices; and at least 25 percent of work hours performed by apprentices have to be completed by disadvantaged workers.
Suafai said that while the center is fulfilling its mission, it could use one or two more tutors to help with apprenticeship exam preparation. It would also be helpful if more pre-apprenticeship programs were available to those seeking them, she said.
The center is open Monday-Friday, 9a.m. – 5 p.m., West Oakland Library, 1801 Adeline Street, 2nd Floor. It can be accessed by the AC Transit NL and 26 lines. Job seekers can pre-register to attend orientations by calling: 510-419-0509.
Marjo Keller: Compliance is Key
Marjo Keller, who handles contract compliance for the developer team completing the Oakland Global infrastructure constructionproject, served as an elections administrator for many years before taking on her new role, but much of the knowledge she developed as a public servant directly translates to her current work.
“Elections laws are ‘shall’ laws, they are not ‘maybe’ laws and they have strict time frames and deadlines, so compliance is critical,” said Keller. “That’s also true of the contracting rules on the Army Base project.”
Under a legally binding agreement, each contractor involved in Oakland Global must comply with the following hiring rules: At least 50 percent of project work hours are performed by local residents; for each construction trade, 20 percent of work hours are handled by apprentices; and at least 25 percent of work hours performed by apprentices are completed by disadvantaged workers. Contractors working with the City of Oakland are required to meet other standard requirements, including living wage rules.
Keller, an Oakland resident since 1984, tracks a variety of data to help ensure that the long list of requirements is met, including reviewing invoices and quarterly reports from subcontractors. Her reports are later delivered to the City of Oakland.
Keller said that generating accurate and timely data helps contractors protect themselves because they can prove that they have followed the law. Meticulous paperwork is the key, but it is a challenge when the pressures of daily work are at play.
“I try to remind people that if they follow the law closely, it will protect them and I help them do that,” Keller said.
As part of her 24 years in government, Keller served as deputy and assistant city clerk for the City of Oakland and has reconnected with former colleagues in her Oakland Global work. She also said she has gained insights to the challenges that accompany a large construction project, such as redeveloping the former Oakland Army Base.
“I’ve been behind the scenes now and have a different perspective on how complicated it is to make something like the Army Base useful again,” Keller said. “I can explain to people the value that it brings to the city.” 
Ban the Box Already at Oakland Global
 Project Welcomes State Action
Effective July 1, 2014, state and local government agencies in California will no longer be allowed to ask job applicants to disclose if they have been convicted of a crime. The agency must first determine that the applicant meets the minimum qualification standards for the position before asking about criminal convictions.
That rule change follows a practice already followed by the Oakland Global project, whereby contractors and subcontractors are generally prohibited from inquiring about prospective workers criminal backgrounds – even after they have met minimum qualifications.
The California law change comes a decade after grassroots prisoner rights organization All of Us or None started a “Ban the Box,” campaign. Since then, 10 states and 56 local jurisdictions across the country have removed conviction questions from public employee forms.
Studies show that job seekers with criminal records are offered employment at half the rate of those without criminal records and that African Americans with convictions are offered employment at one third of those without. Meanwhile, approximately 750,000 felons are released each year in the United States. The recidivism rate of those who obtain employment within the first six months of release is nearly half of those who do not land jobs.
Oakland Global’s “Ban the Box” rule came from a recognition that ex-offenders in Oakland often return to their communities and have difficulty finding employment (California’s recidivism rate is approximately 70 percent), causing a further drain on public resources. The edict was then incorporated into a binding construction jobs policy that governs hiring and contracting rules.
“To counter the excessive growth of the California prison population and recidivism locally we need to provide viable and sustainable alternatives, simply put: Good paying jobs,” said Phil Tagami, CEO of California Capital & Investment Group, the City of Oakland’s partner on the Oakland Global project. “We need to balance second chances with first chances for our residents.”
Oakland Global’s New Soil Testing Tool

The Oakland Global project acquired a quizzical-looking tool in June with a curious name – a Photo Ionization Detector – to handle a serious job.
As seen in the photo, the detector (PID) is a portable. It detects vapor and gas of a variety of organic compounds and is intended to help construction mangers determine whether soil excavations include volatile organic chemicals, such as gasoline, benzene, ethylene, toluene and vinyl chloride, so that steps can be taken to manage the chemicals and protect workers.
Photo ionization occurs when an atom or molecule absorbs light of sufficient energy to cause an electron to leave and create a positive ion. In that vein, the PID is comprised of an ultraviolet lamp that emits photons that are absorbed by the compound in an ionization chamber. Ions (atoms or molecules that have gained or lost electrons and thus have a net positive or negative charge) produced during this process are collected by electrodes. Results are almost immediate.
The Oakland Global project is redeveloping the former Oakland Army Base, which is designated as a Brownfield Site, meaning that hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants have been detected there. In addition, the Army Base is the subject of a Remedial Action Plan / Risk Management Plan, which dictates soil cleanup and handling rules. The property has been determined to be suitable for its intended purpose – trade and logistics work.
As the project continues and soil is excavated and transported, volatile organic chemicals may emerge and the PID helps identify the chemicals and whether further testing must be conducted. 
Army Base Photography 
As a recurring feature, the Oakland Global News presents photography from the Army Base.The photos and captions below are by Dan Nourse. 
Bracing a wall during a demolition project
Wick drain installers
Dan Nourse, a project manager with Oakland-based Roje Consulting, focuses on Oakland Global’s environmental remediation, site elevation increase and site surcharging. Dan was instrumental in the redevelopment of Emeryville and West Oakland. He is a self-taught photographer and uses photography to capture the progress of redevelopment projects as well as producing artful images along the way.
Issue 21
Stay informed
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center development. I believe that the Oakland Global Newsletter will prove to be a useful tool for staying informed and current on this important project going forward.
Phil Tagami