Council discusses labor agreements for Point work

Council discusses labor agreements for Point work

Dave Boitano

As planning continues on Alameda Point and other city-related projects, the City Council is considering legal agreements that city staffers said would benefit builders, workers and the public.

On Tuesday night, the council learned about labor agreements that could set conditions to prevent labor strife and benefit local residents in hiring.

The presentation by attorney Michael J. Vlaming outlined project labor agreements and project stabilization agreements, pre-negotiated compacts governing contractors and labor unions working on a city project or development in which the city sold or leased land to private interests. The agreements can be applied to normal maintenance, such as replacing aging storm drains, or to projects at Alameda Point where the city is planning to redevelop the former Alameda Naval Air Station into homes and businesses.

Typically the agreements prohibit strikes by union workers and lockouts by employers, and they offer a method of settling jurisdictional disputes between trades and grievance procedures.

One provision especially attractive to the council governs social progress. The agreements are often used to set a goal for hiring local residents to work on the project or address other social issues.

The project agreement system is now being used by the City of Berkeley, Alameda County, the Peralta Community College District and the Port of Oakland.

Council members approved of the concept. Mayor Marie Gilmore suggested that planning for the agreements be directed at Alameda Point first, with consideration of applying them to other projects being delayed for now.

One of the issues to be considered is if the agreements would be mandatory for existing tenants on the base, who would be remodeling aging buildings and infrastructure at considerable cost, Gilmore said.

The agreements could also be used to benefit low-income residents now living in former base housing, she added.

“The folks that live at Alameda Point, it’s their home right now,” she said. “We are talking about all this great benefit that will be built up around them. There should be some mechanism for them to participate in these great benefits.”

“It’s going to affect us but it’s really going to affect them," Gilmore added, referring to the truck activity and noise that will occur once construction begins.

The council directed City Attorney Janet Kern to work with labor officials on agreement, policy and some contract language because some Alameda Point projects may come before the council as early as November, said City Manager John Russo.

Andreas Cluver, secretary treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County, said the unions were “more than willing to sit down and come up with language that works.”

Cluver said similar agreements in Berkeley involving employment had been well received.

“We are one of the most progressive counties when it comes to progressive hiring,” he said.