Former Obama Administration Official Calls on Oakland Port Executives for Financial Reform, Fair Treatment of Workers

Oakland, CA — Ro Khanna, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, joins Oakland City Councilwoman Jane Brunner, and more than 200 port workers, SEIU Local 1021 members, staff and community allies to protest management’s misuse of public funds, unfair labor attacks at the Oakland Airport. Next up, Port Workers will vote for a strike authorization on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Given the recent scandal that executives at the Port of Oakland have misused public funds at strip clubs, golf outings and extravagant dinners, employees and their allies demanded real reform on Friday, and to settle a fair contract for SEIU Local 1021 members at the Port of Oakland.

More than 200 people joined Port Workers for their protest at the Oakland Airport on Friday, Nov. 2. Next up: We have a Strike Authorization Vote this Wednesday, Nov. 7

The protest took place at Terminal 1 of the Oakland Airport and included speeches by Khanna, a Stanford professor, Councilwoman Brunner, who is running for CIty Attorney, Local 1021 Vice President Gary Jimenez and Port Chapter President Al Loera. Workers will vote for a strike authorization this Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Ro Khanna, the former deputy assistant secretary at the United States Department of Commerce and a key player for Obama’s national exports initiative, believes Port executives need to keep its promise of good, living-wage jobs.

“It is clear the Port is running a sizeable financial surplus. It’s time to let the workers share in the wealth they helped create,” Khanna said. “Port Officials must not just implement strong financial reform of these public funds, but to treat their workers with fairness and respect.”

Jimenez, along with Port workers, called on an external investigation into the Port’s misuse of public funds.

“Although the public is now aware of this greedy and corrupt behavior, we know where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Jimenez said. “While the Port Commission is doing an internal investigation, we would like to see an investigation conducted by someone not hired by the organization. It is clear the fox shouldn’t be guarding the hen house.”

For more than 16 months, Port executives have been intimidating workers and illegally withholding information and unilaterally changing the terms of their contract. Although the fiscal year ended with a $37 million surplus, Port management is demanding 15 percent of workers’ wages and benefits.

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