While senior Port of Oakland executives were enjoying lavish parties at strip clubs and massage parlors at public expense, we, the port maintenance workers, were here doing our jobs to maintain, protect and secure the facilities at Oakland International Airport and the harbor.
We remain here to do our part to generate income and profit for the Port of Oakland and for the city of Oakland.
Yes, I did say "to generate profit" for the port.
Port of Oakland's maintenance, security and office workers' salaries and benefits are not paid by taxpayer dollars. This port is a profit-generating department of the city of Oakland and, therefore, should not be compared to other municipalities and their individual and collective financial deficits.
There are no deficits at the Port of Oakland. It is becoming clear as investigations are conducted about management corruption that any "deficit" would in fact be the result of port mismanagement, not because of us, the workers who are represented by SEIU Local 1021.
We clean and maintain the floors and restrooms. We do the office work necessary to keep business and security functions flowing properly.
We keep the lights and air conditioning, heat and plumbing working properly. Our members provide security and manage and maintain order and safety on the airfields, and in and around the terminals.
Without Local 1021 workers, the airport and harbor would not be safe and operable and, therefore, could not serve the community, nor generate jobs that pay taxes and contribute to the overall economy of the area.
It is not fair that working families should be required to bear the burden of management's opportunist attempts to pay for their misdeeds, or their taking advantage of the dire economic conditions of other municipalities that are not comparable to our unique employment compensation situation.
Over the past several years, the port director has told us that we make too much money and the port has no money to maintain our current wages, benefits or cost-of-living adjustments.
In fact, the port has illegally laid off workers and unilaterally cut our wages by imposing furlough days, claiming it was necessary to maintain financial sustainability while intimidating workers into keeping quiet.
We are not asking for any raises or additional benefits. We have already suffered at least a 20 percent loss in pay.
This time, during these contract negotiations, we are merely and very fairly asking for the port to maintain our previous, fairly negotiated contract, with no reductions in pay or benefits.
My fellow workers and I are fed up with the port executives' heavy-handed attempt to harm us through continued economic concessions and to scapegoat us as the reason for their supposed financial misfortune.
The senior port executives receive in excess of $200,000 a year. The director alone pulls in a staggering $257,000 a year.
Who is it that makes too much money at the Port of Oakland? And who is really responsible for the Port of Oakland's public relations and (contrived) financial problems?
I assure you it is not the workers.
Rick Mizer is a 17-year port maintenance worker and SEIU Local 1021 member. He lives in Tracy.