Mar 302008
 

Oakland Tribune – March 2008

Longshore worker jobs are extremely tough to land at the Port of Oakland, and it’s only going to get tougher with new rules from the Department of Homeland Security, experts predict.The Pacific Maritime Association — the agency that negotiates labor contracts with terminal operators and steamship companies — has a waiting list with 4,300 names for longshore work. Longshore workers may receive calls for work at the ports of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond or Benicia.Jobs open up every few years. PMA meets quarterly with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents longshore workers, to discuss employment needs.”We discussed whether there are more opportunities for labor based on cargo growth,” said William Bartelson, the PMA area manager for Northern California. “We agreed that we would exhaust that (wait) list before we took in new applications.”In 2002, the PMA and the union negotiated a six-year agreement, expiring this year. Bartelson said the two sides can agree to extend the list or create a new one when the current agreement expires. However, since more than 4,000 people have been on the list for years, neither option seems likely.”No one can get ahead of the line,” Bartelson said.When jobs do open up, an applicant has to take tests for strength, balance and agility. At every level of advancement, the worker must pass drug and alcohol examinations and safety training.Local 10 represents 1,402 longshore workers at the Afour seaports, 239 lead clerks (who check the records of containers as they come on and off the vessels), and 85 walking bosses (foremen).Jo-Ann Yoshioka George, supervisor of the Employment Resources Development at the Port of Oakland, screens applicants for jobs at the port and for its many tenants. The Port of Oakland does not employ longshore workers, yet job seekers still call her about such positions.”Everybody wants to be a longshoreman because they hear about the good pay and these jobs don’t require a high school diploma,” she said.Under the 2007-08 wage scale, available at http://www.pmanet.org, beginners earn $22.11 an hour, and those with 4,000 or more hours of service earn $30.68 an hour. Overtime pay can significantly enhance these amounts.These jobs rarely require background checks, George said, making them attractive to ex-offenders and those with criminal records.However, that will change this year under Department of Homeland Security rules to protect access to ports. The Maritime Security Act requires background checks for any worker who has access to secured areas of regulated ports. Workers must also enroll for biometric identification cards, the so-called Transportation Workers Identification Credential, or TWIC.These procedures will exclude people with certain felonies who previously found jobs as longshore workers. The TWIC program is targeting terrorists, and specifically those who have been convicted of espionage, sedition, treason, and any crime involving transportation security or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes. Also, anyone involved in extortion, immigration violations, rape and arson will be disqualified for port work for seven years after their convictions or for five years after their release.”TWIC will definitely affect us,” Bartelson said. “There will be an appeals process and some longshoreman will be denied cards. Labor is probably duly concerned.”Reach Francine Brevetti at 510-208-6416 or fbrevetti@bayareanewsgroup.com.

JOB RESOURCES

 Posted by at 4:12 pm
Mar 302008
 

Oakland Tribune – March 2008

Lonshoreman Theo Earle Frazier on a catwalk securing containers onboard.

On a Friday in February, Theo Earle Frazier worked on a stack of containers atop the deck of the APL China, a 66,300 dead weight ton vessel docked at terminal 62 at the Port of Oakland.Frazier is a longshore worker, a job many people seem to covet. But it is a hard one to land, and it takes years to make a living at it full time.Frazier figures he was among 20,000 people lined up on a near-riotous day in 1996 when the PMA — the Pacific Maritime Association, which employs longshoremen — was accepting applications for new workers. The response was so overwhelming that the PMA had to call a halt to the application procedure, Frazier recalled.He was already in his 50s on that day in 1996. Frazier, now 64, wanted the longshore work to supplement his income. An ordained Pentecostal minister with seven children and four grandchildren, the extra job was important to him.The wages are good: beginning longshoremen earn about $22 an hour, according to the PMA wage scale, while experienced workers — those with 4,000 hours or more — can take home $30 an hour. Overtime can boost hourly pay to $50.Still, longshore work is spotty. Approved workers may wait days at the union hall before they are called to the port for a job.And the work is very dangerous. In 2007, two workers died in accidents at the Port of Oakland — a risk Frazier knows too well. His stepfather, also a longshoreman, was killed in 1973 when he was hit by a container and knocked off a ship.

Regardless, Frazier was willing to wait for his chance to work at the port. It was seven years before he heard from the PMA again.”I thought they had forgotten about me,” he said.PMA contacted him in 2003, and Frazier is now a member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10.Frazier works two to three days a week when vessels dock at ports in Oakland, San Francisco, Benicia or Richmond.Frazier, like other union members, works an eight-hour shift on days he’s called for duty. He averages about $250 a day and works two to three days a week. But there are plenty of opportunities for overtime.    Longshoreman Theo Earle Frazier If more than one vessel is in port at one time, Frazier said there may be a chance to work a double shift, or a night shift, which pays an extra $100 on top of the regular hourly wage.Dock work is Frazier’s only paid employment, but he’s an active volunteer in the Businessmen’s Fellowship, the Faith-based Coalition and the Black Americans Political Association. Plus, he works in the Voice of Pentecost Christian Church in San Francisco, where he is an ordained minister.On that day in February, Frazier, who lives in San Francisco, reported at 6 a.m. at the dome-shaped ILWU hall near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. He waited with about 200 other union members for his number to be called for an assignment.Frazier was among the last few workers waiting in the union hall when he was called at 7 a.m. and assigned to the task of lashing containers. Then he drove to Oakland to be ready for an 8 a.m. shift at APL’s Terminal 62.

Heavy lifting

A longshore worker, or stevedore, loads and unloads cargo from ships and transports that cargo around the dock area. He or she must also be able to operate the forklifts and tractors that transport cargo on the terminal. In ports that welcome cruise traffic, longshoremen also haul luggage on board and off.A dock is not a serene place. Swarming with noisy, rolling, large machinery, terminals are perilous places to lose your focus.Gus Fashanu is APL’s safety manager on Terminal 62. He keeps order on the dock by walking around.”I don’t feel comfortable with you not wearing your safety vest,” he tells one colleague, referring to the bright yellow vest that makes a worker easily visible on the docks.”A lot of people get complacent about safety,” Fashanu said later, “so I go about walking around making sure people are putting safety first before production.”On that day, Fashanu was especially alert since two ships were at Terminal 62. Each required 22 tractor drivers and a crew of 60 people to offload their cargo. Fashanu enforced speed regulations and traffic patterns on the terminal teeming with trucks, tractors and pedestrians.Containers –20-foot or 40-foot boxes in which cargo is sent by sea — stack as high as nine layers on container ships (counting from below the hold). They can tower six-containers high above deck — about the height of a 10-story building — but no more than that, or else the captain can’t see beyond the bridge.On this day, Frazier is assigned to the APL China, a vessel with the capacity to hold 5,000, 20-foot-long containers, still not the largest around today.The loading and unloading process is fraught with peril, as cranes some 300 feet in the air are manipulated by an operator sitting in a cab at 124 feet. The operator instructs the crane to lift containers, weighing up to a ton, high into the air, where they are suspended above workers’ heads before they are lowered to the dock or on deck.

A perilous perch

Each box has to be secured to the ones above and below it and to the vessel. This requires tools called cones, lashing rods and turnbuckles. The cone, which bears no resemblance to a geometrical cone, varies in shape and can range from 1 pound to 10 pounds. Cones are attached to each corner of the container to help secure the containers to each other.Once onboard the ship, the longshore worker must release the container to be unloaded. To do this, the workers must first remove the lashing rods to unlock the cones from the containers. These hefty rods can vary in length and can weigh from 20 pounds to 50 pounds.After the lashing rods are removed, the crane clamps onto the container from above and hoists it away.Throughout the process, the worker is maneuvering on a catwalk between stacks of boxes, or standing on the perimeter near the side of a ship, with a drop of several stories to the water below, depending on how much is loaded on the ship.”There’s the sea on one side and the dock below,” Frazier said.Neither is a good place to fall.To load a container on a ship, the worker follows a reverse process. The longshore worker wields a heavy steel rod that he locks in place diagonally across the end of the box. With a device called a turnbuckle, weighing about 40 pounds, he screws the rod tightly to attach the box to the vessel.Wielding a turnbuckle requires significant muscle, all while the worker is balancing on a narrow catwalk that runs between the stacked boxes.

Dangerous work

Such strenuous activity may appeal to those who enjoy exerting themselves in the open air and being exposed to the elements.But Frazier notes, “If you’re at the end of the ship facing the rain or gust of wind is in your face, and you’re

holding a rod, you have to be prepared to let it go.”That is, release it to the wind and the water rather than risk being swept away.The work can be dangerous.According to union records, 26 West Coast workers died at their jobs, including eight in Northern California, between 1997 and 2007.The Port of Oakland lost two in 2007. Reginald Ross, 39, of San Francisco, was lashing a container Sept. 24 and was killed as it was lowered into place, and Edward Hall, 47, also of San Francisco, was struck and killed Dec. 3 by a tractor-trailer.Still, Frazier said, deaths don’t tell the entire story.”Near misses don’t count,” he said. “And we have daily constant near misses that require us to be alert and cautious all the time.”Last year, he said, a colleague lost a hand when a container was dropped as he reached out to align it to the chassis of a tractor. His wife, also a longshore worker, was injured in a separate accident the same year, Frazier said.Survival, Frazier said, is not so much a question of strength as one of balance, self-control and alertness.Frazier said some of his colleagues celebrate at the end of their shifts just to have made it through the day.

BY THE NUMBERS

1,400: Number of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members working at the ports of Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond and Benicia.2.4 million: Number of 20-foot containers that passed through the Port of Oakland in 2007.2,058: Number of vessels arriving at the Port of Oakland in 2007.Eight hours: Average length of a longshoreman’s shift.$22: Average hourly wage for an entry-level longshoreman.$30: Average hourly wage for an experienced longshoreman, but overtime can boost the hourly wage to $50.26: Number of workers killed in 2007 at ports on the West Coast, including California and Washington.2: Number of workers killed at the Port of Oakland in 2007.Source: Port of Oakland, Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

 Posted by at 3:42 pm
Mar 292008
 

Oakland Tribune – March 2008

On a Friday in February, Theo Earle Frazier worked on a stack of containers atop the deck of the APL China, a 66,300-dead-weight-ton vessel docked at Terminal 62 at the Port of Oakland.

Frazier is a longshore worker. It’s a job many people seem to covet, but it is a hard one to land and it takes years to make a living at it full-time.

Frazier figures he was among 20,000 people lined up on a near-riotous day in 1996 when the PMA — the Pacific Maritime Association, which employs longshoremen — was accepting applications for new workers. The response was so overwhelming that the PMA had to call a halt to the application procedure, Frazier recalled.

He was already in his 50s on that day in 1996. Frazier, now 64, wanted the longshore work to supplement his income. An ordained Pentecostal minister with seven children and four grandchildren, the extra job was important to him.

The wages are good: Beginning longshoremen earn about $22 an hour, according to the PMA wage scale, while experienced workers — those with 4,000 hours of service or more — can take home $30 an hour. Overtime can boost hourly pay to $50.

Still, longshore work is spotty. Approved workers may wait days at the union hall before they are called to the port for a job.

And the work is very dangerous. In 2007, twoworkers died in accidents at the Port of Oakland — a risk Frazier knows too well: His stepfather, also a longshoreman, was killed in 1973 when he was hit by a container and knocked off a ship.

Regardless, Frazier was willing to wait for his chance to work at the port.

It was seven years before he heard from the PMA again.

“I thought they had forgotten about me,” he said.

PMA contacted him in 2003, and Frazier is now a member of Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Frazier works two to three days a week when vessels dock at ports in Oakland, San Francisco, Benicia or Richmond.

Frazier, like other union members, works an eight-hour day when he’s called for duty. He averages about $250 a day.

But there are plenty of opportunities for overtime. If more than one vessel is in port at one time, Frazier said, there may be the chance to work a double shift, or a night shift, which pays an extra $100 on top of the regular hourly wage.

Dock work is Frazier’s only paid employment, but he’s an active volunteer in the Businessmen’s Fellowship, the Faith-based Coalition and the Black Americans Political Association. Plus, he works in the Voice of Pentecost Christian Church in San Francisco, where he is an ordained minister.

On that day in February, Frazier, who lives in San Francisco, reported at 6 a.m. at the dome-shaped ILWU union hall near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. He waited with about 200 other union members for his number to be called for an assignment.

Frazier was among the last few workers waiting in the union hall when he was called at 7 a.m. and assigned to the task of lashing containers. Then he drove to Oakland to be ready for an 8 a.m. shift at APL’s Terminal 62.

Heavy lifting

A longshore worker, or stevedore, loads and unloads cargo from ships and transports that cargo around the dock area. He or she (yes, there are female longshore workers) must also be able to operate the forklifts and tractors that transport cargo on the terminal. In ports that welcome cruise traffic, longshoremen also haul luggage on board and off.

A dock is not a serene place. Swarming with noisy, rolling, large machinery, terminals are perilous places to lose your focus.

Gus Fashanu is APL’s safety manager on Terminal 62. He keeps order on the dock by walking around.

“I don’t feel comfortable with you not wearing your safety vest,” he tells one colleague, referring to the bright yellow vest that makes a worker easily visible on the docks.

“A lot of people get complacent about safety,” Fashanu says later, “so I go about walking around making sure people are putting safety first before production.”

On that day, Fashanu was especially alert because two ships were at Terminal 62, and each required 22 tractor drivers and a crew of 60 people to offload their cargo. Fashanu enforced speed regulations and traffic patterns on the terminal teeming with trucks, tractors and pedestrians.

Containers — those 20-foot- or 40-foot-long boxes in which cargo is sent by sea — stack as high as nine layers on container ships (counting from below the hold). They can tower six-containers high above deck — about the height of a 10-story building — but no more than that, or else the captain can’t see beyond the bridge.

On this day, Frazier is assigned to the APL China, a vessel with the capacity to hold 5,000, 20-foot-long containers — still not the largest around today.

The loading and unloading process is fraught with peril, as cranes some 300 feet in the air are manipulated by an operator sitting in a cab at 124 feet. The operator instructs the crane to lift containers, weighing up to a ton, high into the air, where they are suspended above workers’ heads before they are lowered to the dock or on deck.

Perilous perch

Each box has to be secured to the ones above and below it and to the vessel. This requires tools called a cone, a lashing rod and turnbuckle. The cone, which bears absolutely no resemblance to a geometrical cone, varies in shape and can range from 1 pound to 10 pounds. Cones are attached to each corner of the container to help secure the containers to each other.

Once onboard the ship, the longshore worker must release the container to be unloaded. To do this, the workers must first remove the lashing rods to unlock the cones from the containers. These hefty rods can vary in length and can weigh from 20 pounds to 50 pounds.

After the lashing rods are removed, the crane clamps onto the container from above and hoists it away.

Throughout it all, the worker is maneuvering on a catwalk between stacks of boxes, or standing on the perimeter near the side of a ship, with a drop of several stories to the water below, depending on how much the ship is loaded.

“There’s the sea on one side and the dock below,” Frazier said.

Neither is a good place to fall.

To load a container on a ship, the worker follows a reverse process: The longshore worker wields a heavy steel rod that he locks in place diagonally across the end of the box. With a device called a turnbuckle, weighing about 40 pounds, he screws the rod tightly to attach the box to the vessel.

Wielding a turnbuckle requires significant muscle, all while the worker is balancing on a narrow catwalk that runs between the stacked boxes.

Dangerous work

Such strenuous activity may appeal to those who enjoy exerting themselves in the open air and being exposed to the elements.

But Frazier notes, “If you’re at the end of the ship facing the rain, or a gust of wind is in your face, and you’re holding a rod, you have to be prepared to let it go.”

That is, release it to the wind and the water rather than risk being swept away.

Indeed, the work can be dangerous.

Between 1997 and 2007, according to union records, 26 West Coast workers died at their jobs, including eight in Northern California.

The Port of Oakland lost two in 2007. Reginald Ross, 39, of San Francisco, was lashing a container Sept. 24 and was killed as it was lowered into place, and Edward Hall, 47, also of San Francisco, was struck and killed Dec. 3 by a tractor-trailer.

Still, Frazier said, deaths don’t tell the entire story.

“Near misses don’t count,” he said. “And we have daily constant near misses that require us to be alert and cautious all the time.”

Last year, he said, a colleague lost a hand when a container was dropped as he reached out to align it to the chassis of a tractor. His wife, also a longshore worker, was injured in a separate accident the same year, Frazier said.

Survival, Frazier said, is not so much a question of strength as one of balance, self-control and alertness.

Frazier said some of his colleagues celebrate at the end of their shifts just to have made it through the day.

Mar 292008
 

Oakland Tribune – March 2008

Longshore worker jobs are extremely tough to land at the Port of Oakland, and it’s only going to get tougher with new rules from the Department of Homeland Security, experts predict.

The Pacific Maritime Association — the agency that negotiates labor contracts with terminal operators and steamship companies — has a wait list with 4,300 names for longshore work. Longshoremen may receive calls for work at the ports of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond or Benicia.

Jobs open up about every few years. PMA meets quarterly with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents longshoremen, to discuss employment needs.

“We discuss whether there are more opportunities for labor based on cargo growth,” said William Bartelson, the PMA area manager for Northern California. “We agreed that we would exhaust that (wait) list before we took in new applications.”

In 2002, the PMA and the union negotiated a six-year agreement that expires this year. Bartelson said the two sides can agree to extend the list or create a new one when the current agreement expires. However, since more than 4,000 people have been on the list for years, neither option seems likely.

“No one can get ahead of the line,” Bartelson said.

When jobs do open up, an applicant has to take tests for strength, balance and agility. At every level of advancement, the worker must pass drug and alcohol examinations and safety training.

Local 10 represents 1,402 longshoremen at the four seaports, 239 lead clerks (who check the records of containers as they come on and off the vessels), and 85 walking bosses (foremen).

Jo-Ann Yoshioka George, supervisor of Employment Resources Development at the Port of Oakland, screens applicants for jobs at the port and for its many tenants. The Port of Oakland does not employ longshoremen, yet job seekers still call her about such positions.

“Everybody wants to be a longshoreman because they hear about the good pay and these jobs don’t require a high school diploma,” she said.

Under the 2007-2008 wage scale, available at http://www.pmanet.org, beginners earn $22.11 an hour while those with 4,000 or more hours of service earn $30.68 an hour. Overtime pay can significantly enhance these amounts.

These jobs have rarely required background checks, George said, making them attractive to ex-offenders and those with criminal records.

However, that will change this year under Department of Homeland Security rules to protect access to ports. The Maritime Security Act requires background checks for any worker who has access to secured areas of regulated ports. Workers must also enroll for biometric identification cards, the so-called Transportation Workers Identification Credential, or TWIC.

These procedures will exclude people with certain felonies who previously found jobs as longshore workers. The TWIC program is targeting terrorists, and specifically those who have been convicted of espionage, sedition, treason, or any crime involving transportation security or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes. Also anyone involved in extortion, immigration violations, rape and arson will be disqualified for port work for seven years after conviction or for five years after release.

“TWIC will definitely affect us,” Bartelson said. “There will be an appeals process and some longshoremen will be denied cards. Labor is probably duly concerned.”

Mar 242008
 

Oakland Tribune – March 2008

OAKLAND — In an effort to reduce diesel particulates from truck emissions, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted Tuesday to levy fees on containers passing through the port.The board did not, however, set the fee amount, or say when it would be imposed. Port staff will study those issues and report back to the board in June.

The new policy is meant to generate $520 million over the next several years to reduce air pollution around the port and to fall in line with California’s stated goal to reduce health risks around ports by 85 percent.

The container fees the Oakland port hopes to raise will provide the funding to retrofit older trucks and replace trucks. It also will fund a mechanism to reduce the emissions from vessels idling while they are harborside. Truck drivers who want to apply for funds to retrofit or have their equipment replaced must apply to the port of Oakland by March 25.

Omar Benjamin, executive director of the port, acknowledged the health risks to the local community of particulate matter at the seaport. He said the port’s goal was to decrease that risk, per state goals, by the year 2020.

At least part of the impetus of the port of Oakland’s commission decision was the opportunity to receive a disbursement from state bond measure Proposition 1B, which requires matching funding. The port is eligible for $20 million from the measure, but it must first come up with

$30 million in matching funds by March 31.

Last year, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach also introduced container fees.

, much to the displeasure of the shippers and retailers who must pay them. The $35 fee for every 20-foot container helps fund the ports’ $2 billion Clean Trucks Program.

But Erik Autor, vice president of the National Retail Federation’s international trade council, said legal challenges are likely to stop the ports from collecting the fees.

 Posted by at 4:20 pm
Mar 202008
 
The Oakland Tribune (CA) – Thursday, March 20, 2008
Author: Francine Brevetti, STAFF WRITER

In an effort to reduce diesel particulates from truck emissions, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted Tuesday to levy fees on containers passing through the port.

The board did not, however, set the fee amount, or say when it would be imposed. Port staff will study those issues and report back to the board in June.

The new policy is meant to generate $520 million over the next several years to reduce air pollution around the port and to fall in line with California’s stated goal to reduce health risks around ports by 85 percent.

The container fees the Oakland port hopes to raise will provide the funding to retrofit older trucks and replace others. It also will fund a mechanism to reduce the emissions from vessels idling while they are harborside. Truck drivers who want to apply for funds to retrofit or have their equipment replaced must apply to the port of Oakland by March 25.

But the commissioners circumvented a hot-button issue by relegating to future study its proposal that truck drivers who are independent contractors be employed by truck holding companies.

Omar Benjamin, executive director of the port, acknowledged the health risks to the local community of particulate matter at the seaport. He said the port’s goal was to decrease that risk, per state goals, by the year 2020.

At least part of the impetus of the Port of Oakland’s commission decision was the opportunity to receive a disbursement from state bond measure Proposition 1B, which requires matching funding. The port is eligible for $20 million from the measure, but it must first come up with $30 million in matching funds by March 31.

The port will hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St., to explain requirements of the retrofit and vehicle replacement programs. The port will hold a public forum in the spring to consider the ramifications of truckers entering the employ of trucking companies. The date is yet to be announced.

Last year, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach also introduced container fees, much to the displeasure of the shippers and retailers who must pay them. The $35 fee for every 20-foot container helps fund the ports’ $2 billion Clean Trucks Program.

But Erik Autor, vice president of the National Retail Federation’s international trade council, said legal challenges are likely to stop the ports from collecting the fees.

Mar 132008
 

The Argus (Fremont-Newark, CA) – Thursday, March 13, 2008
Author: Francine Brevetti, STAFF WRITER

First lady Maria Shriver launched a statewide initiative to invest in women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs in Oakland Tuesday called WE Invest, which is an outgrowth of the governor’s Women’s Conference.

The program is investing $100,000 in Oakland-based Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment. This fund will provide 100 Oakland women with entrepreneurial training, financing and a vast network of support services and mentors so they can achieve success as entrepreneurs.

“When you give a man a loan, you help him. When you give a woman a loan, you help her children, her family and her community,” said Shriver, explaining that it was in the women’s nature to pass the good along.

Wells Fargo executive and women’s initiative board member Michelle Iverson said the $100,000 grant will have a $3 million impact on Oakland’s economy.

Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, or WISE, which is 20 years old this year, according to its executive director Julie Castro Abrams, made 150 loans in 2007, helping 70 low-income women entrepreneurs.

“Now we’ll be able to help 100 more women,” Abrams said.

The event was held at Swarm Gallery on Second Street, the business of Svea Lin Vezzone, a graduate of the Women’s Initiative. Before she made her appearance at the gallery, Shriver visited the businesses of two other graduates, Sheron Campbell, the owner of World of Braids, and Allison Barakat, the proprietor of Bakesale Betty who employs 75 workers. Shriver, dismissing the many praises being showered upon her when she took the stage, reminded her audience that she had never started a business as they had.

“I’m completely in awe of you,” she said.

The Women’s Conference is an annual event launched by the governor that unites 60 world leaders with 14,000 women in one arena to share stories of success and life lessons. It is supported by large corporate sponsors such as Target, Safeway, Wachovia Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, Mattel, HealthNet, Cisco Systems and Wells Fargo.

The launch of WE Invest was announced at the Women’s Conference in October. Shriver said she picked Oakland for the launch venue “because I’ve wanted to do something in Oakland. I wanted to start in a place that really needed it.”

WE Invest is also partnering with Ventura Counties Women’s Economic Ventures and Community Financial Resource Center in Watts in similar programs.

Mar 122008
 

Maria Shriver

By Francine Brevetti, STAFFWRITER

FIRST LADY Maria Shriver launched a statewide initiative to invest in women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs in Oakland Tuesday called WE Invest, which is an outgrowth of the governor’s Women’s Conference.

The program is investing $100,000 in Oakland-based Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment. This fund will provide 100 Oakland women with entrepreneurial training, financing, and a vast network of support services and mentors so they can achieve success as entrepreneurs.

“When you give a man a loan, you help him. When you give a woman a loan, you help her children, her family and her community,” said Shriver, explaining that it was in the women’s nature to pass the good along.

Wells Fargo executive and women’s initiative board member Michelle Iverson said the $100,000 grant will have a $3 million impact on Oakland’s economy.

Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, or WISE, 20 years old this year, according to its executive director Julie Castro Abrams, made 150 loans in 2007, helping 70 low-income women entrepreneurs.

“Now we’ll be able to help 100 more women,” Abrams said.

The event was held at SWARM Gallery on Second Street, the business of Svea Lin Vezzone, a graduate of the Women’s Initiative. Before she made her appearance at the gallery, Shriver visited the businesses oftwo other graduates, Sheron Campbell, the owner of World of Braids, and Allison Barakat, the proprietor of Bakesale Betty who employs 75 workers.

Shriver, dismissing the many praises being showered upon her when she took the stage, reminded her audience that she had never started a business as they had.”I’m completely in awe of you,” she said.

The Women’s Conference is an annual event launched by the governor that unites 60 world leaders with 14,000 women in one arena to share stories of success and life lessons. It is supported by large corporate sponsors such as Target, Safeway, Wachovia Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, Mattel, HealthNet, Cisco Systems, and Wells Fargo.

The launch of WE Invest was announced at the Women’s Conference in October. Shriver said she picked Oakland for the launch venue “because I’ve wanted to do something in Oakland. I wanted to start in a place that really needed it.”

WE Invest is also partnering with Ventura Counties Women’s Economic Ventures and Community Financial Resource Center in Watts in similar programs.

 Posted by at 2:10 pm
Mar 032008
 

Port of Oakland harbor tour

Boat rides open to public once a month May through October

By Francine Brevetti, STAFF WRITER

ABOARD THE ROYAL STAR — Slicing through churning waters, with the Bay Bridge on the left and towering oceangoing vessels on the right, this must be one of the best free rides around.

The Port of Oakland offers free harbor tours sailing past its territory, terminals and vessels once a month from May to October.

It seems an unlikely attraction — the daily hustle and bustle of the nation’s fourth-busiest port — but a port spokesperson said demand for the tours has grown so great since they were first offered in 2001 that port administration is considering adding tours. Reservations are required, but the tour is open to individuals and groups.

On a tour last September, several groups of students, seniors’ singles clubs and church associations boarded the Royal Star in front of the port’s offices at 100 Water St.

The ship, under the command of Capt. John Elkin, has space for 650 people “but we don’t go over 625,” lead deckhand Bruce McBride said.

The vessel, chartered from Blue and Gold Fleet, used to ferry cars back and forth from Catalina Island, McBride said.

But the tourists aboard that day had little interest in the vessel they were on; they were more interested in the vessels at dockside.

Oceangoing mammoths from the great names of shipping around the world — Hapag-Lloyd from Germany, K Line from South Korea, Matson of Hawaii, Maersk of Denmark, China’s COSCO, APL (formerly American President Lines and now owned by NOL of Singapore) — lined up at terminal after terminal.

The ships are a geography lesson in themselves besides what they teach about trade.

One passenger elbowed his brother-in-law and pointed to the containers on a German vessel. “That’s how I got my BMW, Hank,” he said.

The port began the program as an effort in community education and pays for the tours from its community outreach budget.

“We’ve always had lots of people who are curious about the port,” said spokesperson Joanne Holloway.

On each tour, a port spokesperson recounts the history of the port and the various terminals.

On that day in September, public affairs associate Laura Arreola told passengers that in 2005, $800 billion worth of goods came to the U.S. from overseas. Cargo worth $33 billion came through the Port of Oakland, both imports and exports.

Leslie Aronson, a first-grade teacher from St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, told her 24 charges they could expect a writing lesson on their experiences when they return to the classroom.

Parents explained how the port’s huge gantry cranes were models for great white galumphing machines in George Lucas’ “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Elementary school students Maria Rincon and Alexa Ingersoll were excited after a peek at the captain’s bridge.

“We got to see them drive the boat,” Alexa said.

Passengers gaped as a crane operator high above in a glass enclosed compartment lifted 20-foot long containers from the decks of vessels.

The Royal Star passed a mountain of scrap metal piled at the terminal of Shitzer’s Steel Co. Among the Port of Oakland’s largest exports, these twisted, broken ruins are the building blocks of every Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan automobile we buy
here, Arreola said.

For some, however, the trip itself was the main draw.

“The kids are looking forward to riding on the boat,” said parent Wayne Christopher, a chaperone with the group from St. Paul’s Episcopal School. “I don’t think they care about the operation of the port very much.”

 Posted by at 3:37 pm
Mar 022008
 

By Francine Brevetti, STAFF WRITER
The Port of Oakland will receive almost $4 million to beef up its security from the $40 million Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will disperse for 11 of California’s ports.

The 11 ports were approved for funding by Proposition 1B under the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Bond Act of 2006.

Proposition 1B approved $20 billion to enhance safety and security in the state’s transportation systems as well as ameliorating its air quality. Of that, $1 billion will be allocated to the ports and mass transit systems. California ports handle nearly half of the nation’s containerized goods.

The disbursement of the money will be formally announced at dual news conferences today in Long Beach and Oakland.

Port spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur said Oakland’s allotment will be used to employ a truck-tracking and -reporting system to follow the movements of individual trucks throughout the port and its terminals.

“In the future, we will be able to link this with other maritime domain awareness systems, that is, that combination of people and technology tracking power,” Sandifur said.

The Port of Oakland is one of the six ports in the San Francisco Bay Area to be so endowed by the state government. The others include Redwood City, Richmond, Sacramento, San Francisco and Stockton.

Brian Keith, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security in Sacramento, explained that the allocation of the rest of these funds is being decided by a maritime security council consisting of the captains of ports and their security directors among the recipient ports.

They began discussing their needs last year.

“The main goals for these ports will be cameras, surveillance control and procuring detection systems to control these threats — CBRNE — chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological and explosive threats,” Keith said.

Proposition 1B funds are part of a plan to protect 37 million residents from man-made or natural disasters and will supplement nearly $171 million coming to the state from Federal Department of Homeland Security Grants Funding.

 

 Posted by at 3:30 pm