Local workers make up the bulk of employees building BART’s Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), and thanks to a newly awarded grant, some of those workers will come from an apprentice program aimed at training young Oakland men and women looking to learn a trade.
BART officials announced the decision to award a grant of nearly $34,000 to the Oakland-based Cypress Mandela Training Center to employ a young and diverse workforce made up of Oakland residents.
“Most faces behind the columns and infrastructure being built right now along Hegenberger Road are from Oakland or one of the surrounding communities,” said BART Board Member Robert Raburn, who represents BART District 4, which includes Oakland. “This apprentice program isn’t just about hiring local, it’s about training our future workforce and following through on our commitment to the community.”
To date, the OAC project has met or exceeded nearly all local hiring goals. The project contract calls for 50 hours of the hours to be worked by “local residents” (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties) and 25 percent from residents of Oakland. As of January 31, 2013, 984 people have worked over 339,426 hours building the connector, which amounts to 69 percent of those hours worked by local residents and 26 percent by Oakland residents. The project is currently at 16.6 percent in apprentice utilization with 57 percent of these hours worked by Oakland residents with an emphasis on those who live in the vicinity of the project.
“We are very excited to receive BART’s grant,” Director of the Cypress Mandela Training Center Director Art Shanks said. “This fund will help the Cypress Mandela Training Center fulfill its mission to connect the community with local projects. We will collaborate with community partners to identify potential clients who want to join the workforce and those already in the unions who need assistance reinstituting themselves for future, skilled jobs.”
The grant is a product of an agreement negotiated when BART awarded the contract for its Oakland Airport Connector. The Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) was developed as a partnership between BART, the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and OAC contractor Flatiron Construction & Parsons Transportation Joint Venture. The contractor was required to fund an account to support local workforce development, placement and retention.
The partners work with qualified community based organizations located in Oakland and selected the Cypress Mandela Training Center through a “Request for Proposals” application process. The center has the potential to receive $15,000 to $20,000 in additional funds over the life of the construction project.