In The News
Port unions join forces against Saltworks
DMB Associates says it is working to address concerns raised by labor groups, area businesses over project
BY JESSE DUNGAN
Daily News, 6/17/11
A proposal to build thousands of homes on the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City is facing growing opposition from unions, including those that represent port workers, an environmental group leading the charge against the development announced Thursday.
The Sailors Union of the Pacific and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6 have joined three other unions that oppose the Redwood City Saltworks project, according to nonprofit Save the Bay.
Cargill and DMB Associates hope to build up to 12,000 homes, as well as office buildings and schools on the salt ponds east of Highway 101. The project would also feature open space, playing fields and some tidal marsh restoration.
“If you build 12,000 units of housing adjacent to the (Port of Redwood City), what is going to happen is it’s going to kill the port,” said Sailors Union of the Pacific President Gunnar Lundeberg. “All the folks who will reside in the area will start complaining about industrial activity.”
Save the Bay, which wants to see the salt ponds restored as natural hab-itat, says the five unions that oppose the project represent about 80,000 workers in Northern California. In addition, several businesses and associations around Seaport Boulevard — such as Sims Metal, PABCO Gypsum and the Port of Redwood City — are also concerned about the project, according to the organization.
DMB Senior Vice President David Smith acknowledged the concern Thursday.
“We’ve heard them say that and ... we’re working very closely to evolve the land plan to take those concerns into consideration, and that’s going on as we speak,” he said.
Smith pointed out there are other labor groups that back the project.
“We are thrilled to have such vigorous and robust labor support already,” he said.
Last summer, DMB Associates announced that a dozen labor groups were in support of conducting an environmental review of the project. The organizations represent more than 300,000 workers.
“This plan would create the thing we all need most, which is jobs,” Bill Nack, business manager of the San Mateo Building Trades Council, said in a statement Thursday. “These would be in addition to the good union jobs already in place in Redwood City, including at the port.”
The Saltworks project is expected to create more than 33,000 jobs, according to the trades council. Some opponents, however, say a few years of construction work aren’t worth risking long-term jobs at the port.
Other unions that oppose the Cargill development are the Teamsters Joint Council 7, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 and the American Federation of Teachers Local 1493, according to Save the Bay.
An environmental review of the project, which the city council of Redwood City authorized last year, is just getting under way.