Transport Oakland statement on the City Strike

Mayor Schaaf and Members of the Oakland City Council,

Transport Oakland is gravely concerned with the progress of labor contract negotiation with City unions. Our vision is to achieve transportation infrastructure and policy that brings livability, vitality, sustainability, and equity to Oakland – a vision that is placed further in jeopardy the longer an impasse remains between the City and its unions.

While both sides have marshaled their respective statements, studies, and statistics, it can be hard to sift out the truth of Oakland’s financial status. We are not able to definitively declare one side wrong and the other right (we’re experts in transportation policy, not public administration, after all). But we do want to suggest the following  principles to guide continued negotiations:

  • Oakland’s elected leadership must continually pursue a more equitable city, both for its residents and its workers.
  • A strong, talented, motivated workforce is the lifeblood of a high-functioning government
  • Oakland cannot recruit and retain this type of workforce if it does not pay enough for workers to live in a city that is getting more expensive by the day.
  • The City must reform the temporary/part time (TPT) worker system, even if the costs associated with its reform require painful trade-offs on all sides; it’s the right thing to do for the City’s most vulnerable employees.
  • All sides must agree to solutions that respect the trust given by the taxpayers of Oakland; any agreement must be sustainable in the near, medium, and long term. A short-term “win” for either side is not helpful if it simply sets up another budgetary crisis in a few years.

With this in mind, we ask that all sides return to the bargaining table to negotiate in good faith and work collectively to identify creative solutions to secure a contract agreement. Any deal struck between the City and its unions may not resolve every important contract issue; we request a proactive plan be put in place for dialogue to address and fund those sticking points in the upcoming months…well ahead of the next negotiations.

Negotiations in good faith means both sides must be willing to set aside rhetoric and get down to the hard work of identifying and agreeing upon the necessary trade-offs and consequences of every budget decision. Areas most in need of reform (such as the temporary/part time worker system, or reforming OPD’s abuse of overtime) have the potential to inflict the most pain when being rectified; united action and shared sacrifices will be necessary to see such long-overdue reform through.

We implore the City and unions to return to the negotiating table to forge a deal that treats workers fairly, advances equity within the City, and creates a sustainable path forward for future labor agreements.


Transport Oakland

Liz Brisson, President

Michael Schwartz, Vice President

Christopher Kidd, Secretary

Kenya Wheeler

Rachel Berger