Oakland city council backs jobs bill

By Marilyn Bechtel, in People's Weekly World,
17 May, 1997

OAKLAND, Calif. - On May 6 the Oakland City Council joined the national wave of support for the Martinez emergency $250 billion public works jobs bill (HR-950) by passing a strong resolution of endorsement. This is the latest action in what is a growing campaign of support for the bill in northern California.

Resolutions were also recently passed by the Boards of Supervisors in San Francisco and Marin counties and by the Berkeley City Council.

Also last week the Sacramento Coalition for Public Works Jobs was formed, following earlier similar actions in San Francisco and the East Bay. These three labor-community formations have the active participation of area central labor councils, other unions and community and religious organizations.

Meanwhile, the San Jose-based South Bay Central Labor Council reaffirmed its support for the bill and affiliated with the National Labor-Community Coalition for Public Works Jobs.

In Oakland, city councilmembers declared their enthusiastic support for HR-950 before unanimously passing a strong resolution introduced by Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente. Mayor Elihu Harris announced that council members had already met with Rep. Matthew Martinez in Washington, pledging full support for the bill.

Speaking for the resolution were Owen Marron, head of the Alameda County Central Labor Council which recently reaffirmed support for the measure, and Cassandra Lopez, educator, and chair of the advisory committee of Oakland's large Mosswood Park Recreation Center.

With huge numbers of people being forced off welfare rolls, and cities having very limited funds, said Marron, the biggest possible pool of resources is needed including the Martinez bill, to provide jobs at union wages and benefits.

"As a teacher, I am totally in support of HR-950 with its special emphasis on education," Lopez said. The $250 billion called for in the bill is the basis for a meaningful jobs program, she added.

The Oakland City Council resolution declares that everyone should be entitled to a living wage job or a livable income, and points out that "funds for a jobs or income program can be secured through cuts in military spending and the reduction of corporate welfare programs."

The Sacramento Labor Council reaffirmed its support for HR- 950 and has sent all its affiliates information on the bill. Among endorsers are HERE Local 49, Laborers Local 185, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 17, Teamsters Local 150 Retirees, Capital of California Council of UAW Retirees, Six Counties Federation of Retired Union Members (FORUM), the California Faculty Association and Teachers Local 226.

At its meeting last week, the San Francisco Labor Community Coalition for Public Works Jobs heard reports of growing labor and community endorsements, including United Public Employees Local 790, SEIU and its affiliated bodies including the Retirees' Committee and the Latino Caucus.

Support is also coming from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 2, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 3, Pride at Work, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and others. The San Francisco Labor Council earlier endorsed HR-950.

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