The Revive Oakland Coalition and labor unions have negotiated an agreement with CenterPoint to give jobs to people with a criminal record. The jobs will be at the former Oakland Army base that was handed over to the Port of Oakland for redevelopment.
CenterPoint agreed to the so-called ban-the-box policy that will ensure many positions will be available to people with criminal records and formerly incarcerated community members. Ban-the-box is a policy that prohibits employers from putting a check box in the initial job application for applicants to indicate a criminal history.
The coalition said the ban-the-box policy is one of the strongest, yet most negotiated steps forward on any project in the nation because it substantially limits the types of criminal convictions that can disqualify someone from a job. This provides greater transparency for job applicants and employers as to what might be a disqualifying record.
“workers…will be paid a minimum of $13.32/hour with benefits”
A massive state-of-the-art 440,800-square-foot warehouse is scheduled to be built on the former Army base. It will connect to the port’s maritime facilities and will funnel cargo from ships to truck transportation networks. It is expected to generate hundreds of jobs, reported the East Bay Express.
Many formerly incarcerated people face discrimination when they search for jobs and are often locked out of the market, making it difficult to survive, said Sabir Lockett, an Oakland resident and former prisoner of 22 years. “This is about building trust in formerly incarcerated people as well as providing a living wage and local [hiring practices] so people can stay in Oakland,” said Lockett.
According to the coalition, workers at the new facility will be paid a minimum of $13.32/hour with benefits, or $15.31/hour without benefits. Half of the jobs will be set aside for local area residents, with a hiring priority for people from Oakland’s flatlands zip codes closest to the port.
The deal is important because it is a model for fair economic development in an era when technology is transforming work, said Jahmese Myres, director of Revive Oakland.
As part of the agreement, CenterPoint acquired a 66-year lease for $1.3 million per year that will rise to $6.4 million in the year 66. CenterPoint is owned by the California Public Employees Retirement System, the state’s largest public employee pension.