On September 21st a public hearing was held by the Oakland City Council on whether a new bulk terminal at the port should be allowed to trans-ship coal and petroleum coke through the port. Controversy surrounding the project has been stirred up by some in the environmental community opposed to any type of development involving fossil fuels. Perhaps more surprising in their opposition were the Longshoremen.
Oakland Global is a collaboration begun after the Federal Government decommissioned the Oakland Army Base. After a decade and a half of strategic planning, the Oakland Army Base will become a world-class hub and international gateway for transporting goods by seaport, railroad and roadway. This new state-of-the-art facility will be known as the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center, or “Oakland Global.”
The jobs impact of expanding the capabilities of the Port of Oakland to handle bulk/non-containerized goods (e.g. agricultural and mineral commodities) is estimated at nearly 12,000 high paying jobs including nearly 3,000 construction related jobs. The annual regional employment income from the project is estimated at $300 million – mostly middle-class beneficiaries as opposed to the “not so spread out wealth emanating from Silicon Valley.”
Normally this would be a win-win for everyone but just say the word “coal” and out come all the “save the Planet” types who still believe diesel exhaust emissions from trucks are responsible for every illness in Oakland.
Derrick Muhammad, ILWU Local 10 Business Agent testified in opposition to allowing coal to be exported through the new terminal – somewhat counterintuitive to creating new job opportunities for members of the ILWU. Local media quoted Mr. Muhammad as saying the union position is; “We are adamantly opposed to coal. We’re not against the terminal; we welcome the terminal. We’re just opposed to coal.”
But organized labor isn’t marching in lockstep with the enviros this time. The Teamsters are supportive of the project (including coal shipments) because of the benefits to their membership. It is ironic to note however that the Teamsters support of the Oakland Global project as juxtaposed to their aggressive campaign against “dirty, polluting trucks” does seem inconsistent. Ah well, at least this time they are on the right side of the issue!