Oakland ILWU Local 10 and 34 longshore workers oppose shipping coal at new terminal

Oakland ILWU Local 10 and 34 longshore workers oppose shipping coal at new terminal
By Mike Blasky mblasky@bayareanewsgroup.com
OAKLAND — Longshore workers at the Port of Oakland are opposing a developer's plan to ship coal to Asia through a new terminal at the old Army Base.

Members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 and Local 34 voted to oppose the handling of coal at a new bulk maritime terminal being built by developer Phil Tagami's company California Capital & Investment Group, union officials announced Friday. The unions join several elected officials, port commissioners, environmental groups and members of the community in objecting to the plan.

An uncovered coal car rumbles along the tracks in Richmond, Calif. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. (Kristopher Skinner/Staff file photo)
"When the developers of the project were seeking tax money and public support to develop the Oakland Army Base, they talked about exporting cargoes like grain and potash," Sean Farley, president of Local 34 said in a statement. "They made a 'no coal' promise to workers, the community and elected officials, and they need to make good on that promise."
The City Council on Monday will hold a public hearing to discuss Tagami's controversial plan, which was revealed when a Utah newspaper reported this spring that a state agency had approved a $53 million investment to ship coal through the new terminal.
That contradicted Tagami's previous public statements that he wouldn't support exporting coal at the base and drew the ire of Mayor Libby Schaaf and several council members.

"He said it to my face," Councilman Dan Kalb said. "He said, 'Dan, climate change is the premiere issue of the day. I care very much about my children and I would never let coal go through any of my property or terminal.' And he was very passionate about that."
Since it was discovered, residents have routinely filled City Hall to protest the coal transport plan.
Councilman Larry Reid and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan co-sponsored Kalb's hearing proposal. Monday's special hearing starts at 4 p.m.
Mike Blasky covers Oakland City Hall. Contact him at 510-208-6429. Follow him at Twitter.com/blasky.

East Bay Labor Unions Say 'No' to Coal in Oakland
By Darwin BondGraham

• A Union Pacific train laden with coal passing through the Sierra Nevada foothills toward the Bay Area in August 2015.
The official voice of the labor movement in the East Bay has come out against plans to export coal from Oakland. This morning, the Alameda Labor Council’s executive committee passed a resolution opposing the export of coal from the bulk commodity terminal planned for construction at the city’s former Army Base.

The resolution cites health hazards and environmental harms that are likely to result from shipping and storing coal in West Oakland — hazards that will impact both workers and Oakland residents.

“Jobs involving coal are unhealthy and unsafe due to dust emissions; coal is increasingly an anti-union industry,” states the resolution. “West Oakland residents are already twice as likely to visit the emergency room for asthma as the average Alameda County resident, and are also more likely to die of cancer, heart and lung disease… .”

Terminal Logistics Solutions, the company proposing coal exports from the terminal, has claimed that the facility will be served by covered rail cars to reduce the amount of coal dust that drifts into nearby neighborhoods. TLS recently unveiled sketches on its website depicting dome-covered silos and enclosed conveyor belts that will store and load the coal onto ships for export overseas.

• A conceptual rendering of TLS's bulk commodity terminal planned for construction at the old Oakland Army Base.
Opponents of the coal plan have said, however, that covered rail cars, silos and chutes are not used anywhere in the United States today, and their efficacy hasn’t been studied.

The Labor Council’s resolution states that despite the unions’ “unified opposition to coal,” they believe that the project can move forward without coal. Their resolutions welcomes commodities such as steel, wood, grains, sand, gravel ,and other "non-hazardous materials."

A special meeting of the Oakland City Council is scheduled for Monday. The city clerk’s office has already received more than three hundred speaker cards from members of the public.