Oakland City workers plan march on city council

Members of one of the largest unions that represents Oakland city employees plan to march to the City Council meeting Tuesday night to address what they say are discriminatory practices and the misuse of temporary workers by the city.

Anna Bakalis, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said workers from the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Oakland Public Library, Parks and Recreation and other departments will tell the council about unfair and discriminatory practices they experience or see.

Bakalis said many workers report that their supervisors overlook them and pick favorites in selecting employees to work overtime and they believe the reason is racial discrimination or nepotism.

She also said Public Works employees report that their supervisors have them spend more time cleaning up illegal dumping and doing street sweeping in the city’s affluent hills areas and less time cleaning up problems in the less affluent flatland areas in East and West Oakland.

Bakalis said one of the union’s biggest concerns is the existence and expansion of the city’s Temporary Part-Time (TPT) workforce, who work on-call for weeks, months or years with no health care, retirement benefits nor job security.

She said the TPT workers originally were just to be used for seasonal work in Parks and Recreation and summer programs but she believes the city has “abused” the system as a way to avoid paying benefits to many city employees. Bakalis said the number of TPTs has “exploded” from 1,000 in 2008 to 2,500 in 2014 and SEIU Local 1021 now represents more TPTs than it does full-time employees, as it represents about 1,000 full-time workers now.

She said SEIU Local 1021 recently began bargaining with the city for a new contract to replace the one that expires on June 30 and workers want to let the City Council members know about their concerns. The workers’ rally is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on the steps of City Hall.

At 5:20 p.m., the workers will march into City Hall and at 5:30 p.m. they plan to speak during the council’s public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.