Five Labor Unions Oppose Cargill Development on Salt Ponds in Redwood City

June 15, 2011

The Sailors Union of the Pacific and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6 have joined the growing list of labor unions opposed to development on restorable Bay salt ponds in Redwood City. 

These two unions join the Teamsters Joint Council No. 7, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, and the American Federation of Teachers Local 1493 in opposing the proposal by Minnesota-based agribusiness giant Cargill and Arizona-based luxury home developer DMB Associates to build 12,000 homes for 32,000 people on the salt ponds immediately adjacent to the Port of Redwood City. 

 “Protecting our vital ports, by following common-sense zoning and land-use policies that keep housing away from heavy industry is a critical concern of our members,” said Sailors Union of the Pacific President Gunnar Lundeberg.  “We owe it to ourselves to protect our Port and this great waterway, for the benefit of our economy and future generations.”

These unions, which together represent approximately 80,000 Northern California workers, say that Cargill’s development threatens the Port of Redwood City and adjacent industries along Seaport Boulevard. 

“Our concerns are not just about putting 12,000 homes and multiple elementary schools right next to our industrial work sites, but about clogging the key roadways we use to move materials, and restricting the ability of our industries to operate and expand by surrounding them with residential development,” wrote Rome Aloise, President of the Teamsters Joint Council No. 7, to the San Mateo Central Labor Council.

The Pacific Merchant Shippers Association, the Seaport Industrial Association, Sims Metal, Granite Rock, Lyngsø Garden Materials, PABCO Gypsum, and the Port of Redwood City have written letters to Redwood City officials expressing concern that the housing project will hurt their businesses.  In its 2008 Strategic Assessment, the Port of Redwood City lists encroaching residential development as the main threat to its operations. 

ILWU Local 6 represents workers at PABCO Gypsum, ILWU Local 10 represents longshoremen at the Port, the Sailors Union represents workers on the ships, and the Teamsters represent workers at Sims Metal, Cemex and Central Concrete. AFT Local 1493 represents faculty in the San Mateo County Community College District.

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SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION

Pacific Merchant Shipping Association:

“The development of the ‘Saltworks’ property will ultimately threaten the long-term operation of one of our most-successful and viable regional niche ports, disrupt the regional economy, and likely subject maritime operations to years of unreasonable legal and political challenges.” – August 6, 2009 letter to the Redwood City City Council

Port-area businesses, led by Seaport Industrial Association, supported by the Port of Redwood City, Sims Metal, Lyngso, PABCO Gypsum, and others:

“The project described shows a surprising disregard for sound land use planning recommended by local and state agencies by locating sensitive residential uses in close proximity to existing heavy industrial operations at the Port and along Blomquist St…. There is no question that basic land use principles, City policies, and specific guidance from regulatory authorities with jurisdiction over air quality and other resources strongly discourage – if not outright prohibit – new residential uses nearby existing industrial uses. Yet that is precisely what the project application proposes." – March 31, 2011 Seaport Industrial Association letter to the City of Redwood City

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10:

“Local 10 longshoremen have witnessed what happens when maritime industry and housing are mixed. Residents file lawsuits because of the lights, dust and noise (Port of Los Angeles), make it nearly impossible to complete necessary supporting road and infrastructure improvements (Port of Seattle), and ultimately create political pressure that constricts and threatens the operations of the industry and workers’ jobs. And before you know it there are no more good jobs or maritime industrial port.

There are other, more appropriate places to build homes – locations with existing infrastructure, served by transit, without threatening industry or the environment. There is, however, no place else to move the Port.” – March 15, 2011 letter to the San Mateo Central Labor Council

Teamsters Joint Council No. 7:

“As a member of the Building Trades, the Teamsters don’t take lightly the jobs that could be generated by building the proposed 12,000 houses on the salt ponds. However, there are other locations where we can build housing – other locations that make more sense and don’t threaten nearby industries. Housing can go elsewhere, but these Seaport industries cannot. We rely on our access to the Port of Redwood City, the only deep-water port in the South Bay, to ship our materials.  Asking our members in Local 853 – at Sims Metal, Cemex and Central Concrete – to sacrifice the long-term stability of their jobs, for the sake of a few good years of construction work, is a trade-off that we cannot accept.” – May 12, 2011 letter to the San Mateo Central Labor Council

Sailors Union of the Pacific:

“With the ever worsening congestion along freeways, in the West and East Bay, ports are more important than ever. Through short sea shipping (America’s Marine Highway Program endorsed by the U.S. Department of Transportation) goods can be moved over water, keeping trucks off the road and improving the region’s air quality. Redwood City should be encouraging this sort of activity, not discouraging it by putting 12,000 high-end housing units next to Port industries.” – June 8, 2011 letter to the Redwood City City Council.