Labor groups attempt to block Oakland's Oak Knoll Project

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a project more than 20 years in the making, one finally poised to go before the Oakland City Council for a vote Tuesday night.

The long-awaited transformation of the 187 acres where the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital once stood could soon be approved. The facility closed in 1996, and now, a company called SunCal wants to replace the dilapidated property in the Oakland Hills with more than 900 housing units, retail and community spaces and trails.

But, not everyone is excited about the proposal.

"We are standing here to publicly oppose this project," said Josie Camacho, with the Alameda Labor Council, as she and a handful of other labor leaders stood in front of Oakland City Hall.

They want SunCal, the master developer of the project, to make them a promise first.

"We are here demanding that this project use union workers for all aspects of the project and have local hire and other community benefits associated with it," said Andreas Cluver, with the Alameda Building and Construction Trades Council.

SunCal, which is not a home builder, says the company has agreed to use only union laborers to complete the grading and preparation of the site for construction.

"I've been working on this project since 1992," said Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid. He says SunCal cannot make promises or agreements that would encumber future builders, companies yet to be identified or selected.

"As the master developer, they cannot obligate those developments," explained Reid. "The unions have known that. We've had a series of meetings with SunCal, and SunCal has made it absolutely clear to them that they can't."

But the trade councils and a group called East Bay Residents for Responsible Development claim SunCal can make such a preemptive agreement. They've collected 1,600 signatures on petitions, trying to block the Oak Knoll Project.
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