The City of Oakland has officially approved the two year fiscal budget for 2023 – 2025, including critical provisions for our communities. Though this year saw the largest deficit in our City’s history, Oaklanders together made it clear that people’s needs for safety and stability come first.
Over the past few months, we have advocated for the city budget to include crucial services for low-income workers and renters, particularly for Black and Brown communities. Whether strategizing with allied Oakland organizations or mobilizing faith leaders to join community budget forums and give public comment at council meetings, EBASE has worked to help ensure that our Town’s budget truly does reflect the needs of the people.
Keep reading to learn about how EBASE advocated for a budget that stands for the needs of Black and Brown workers and renters.
Oakland People's Budget Coalition
EBASE worked with the Oakland People’s Budget Coalition to advocate for a budget that centers residents most impacted by displacement and inequity in Oakland by funding violence prevention, affordable housing and homelessness solutions. Our coalition’s work to bring together community leaders and members to strategize and mobilize around issues of racial justice in policing and housing has been critical to achieving the future we envision for our city’s residents, children and generations to come.
Without the leadership of Mayor Sheng Thao and Council President Nikki Bas, we would not have been able to mitigate the City’s decayed fiscal practices under the previous administration. In partnership with Council President Bas’ budget team of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Councilmember Carroll Fife, and Councilmember Kevin Jenkins, the Oakland People’s Budget Coalition was able to further secure programs and services that impact Oaklanders, including:
- Increased grant funding for the Department of Violence Prevention to ensure that critical public safety programs aren’t cut
- Restoration of funding within the Department of Housing and Community Development for tenant assistance programs that will help scores of families avoid being pushed into homelessness when the eviction moratorium expires
- Job protection for City of Oakland workers and ensuring that there would be no layoffs due to this crisis
EBASE celebrates these accomplishments and looks forward to deepening our partnerships with members of the Oakland People’s Budget Coalition as we look to next year’s mid-cycle budget review, the next major opportunity to expand resources for the things that help Oaklanders thrive.
Who We Are: The Oakland People’s Budget Coalition is a group of community and labor organizations that represents thousands of Oakland residents and workers. We are Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), IFPTE Local 21, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corporation of Oakland (BAMBD CDC), Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, and Street Level Health Project (SLHP).
Fighting for Oakland's Workers
EBASE and the UC Berkeley Labor Center recently released the State of Working East Bay report analyzing living and working conditions in the East Bay as recently as 2019 [2020 data is not yet available due to pandemic delays]. We confirmed our anecdotal understanding that wages are not keeping up with expenses for low-wage workers, and identified an increased need for workers’ rights enforcement to prevent wage theft, denial of paid sick time, and labor violations generally as a racial equity issue.
During this budget process, EBASE worked with partners from Fair Labor Oakland (FLO) to sustain the city’s Fair Labor Oakland program that provides funding for know your rights training to workers across Oakland and to build up the new Department of Workplace and Employment Standards (DWES).
EBASE and our partners at the FLO table wish to express gratitude to Council President Bas for including a modest consumer price index increase to this low-wage worker education project that our organization participates in with our friends at Centro Legal de la Raza, Street Level Health Project, Restaurant Opportunities Center, Roots Community Health Clinic, and Chinese Progressive Association. Without this increase, our work to support day laborers, restaurant workers, hotel workers, and all Oakland workers in knowing their rights and the enforcement of their rights would not be possible.
EBASE and FLO also helped protect 6 labor standards compliance positions in the Department of Workplace and Employment Standards and keep the department running. In order to make this happen, we worked with our FLO partners to host DWES Director Emylene Aspilla and department staff on two site visits to hear directly from Oakland’s low-wage workers about the wage theft, denial of sick time or other unfair labor practices they were facing. We appreciate Council President Bas and Councilmember Ramachandran for joining our press conference to bring attention to the importance of funding DWES.
Under the leadership of Council President Bas and Mayor Sheng Thao, we are just beginning to see the City invest in protecting this department and the rights of Oakland’s workers. EBASE is looking forward to working with our Fair Labor Oakland allies, our City’s elected officials and staff, and Oakland workers and community to ensure worker justice is centered in our great city.
Moral Budget Platform
The Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, an initiative of EBASE, has brought a moral voice to the budget process by creating and spreading awareness of a Moral Budget Platform in Oakland. This platform emphasizes the need for affordable housing and tenant protections, public safety alternatives to policing, worker protections, and a strong safety net for immigrants. It was created in collaboration with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI) and a coalition of Oakland faith leaders.
Faith leaders from Economic Justice for Black Oakland, an extension of FAME, and the Interfaith Movement led delegations to Oakland Councilmembers about the necessity for A Moral Budget Platform in Oakland. As EBASE and FAME’s Oakland Faith-Rooted Organizer Jeremy McCants says in an Oakland Post op-ed, “the Moral Budget Platform is drawn from the righteous hopes of the people of Oakland who wish to see our neighborhoods reflect the just economic power and sustainability we all deserve.”
During the budget process, FAME worked with the People’s Budget Coalition to ensure that our top moral budget priorities of housing justice, community-led public safety, and worker justice were aligned, so we could mobilize faith community members to support a moral budget that truly spoke to the people’s needs. We are thankful to Council President Bas for ensuring that the faith community was heard and that morality and justice is centered in decision making by the City of Oakland.
EBASE is proud of all the work we have done with our Oakland allies to help pass a budget that represents the needs of our city’s workers, renters, and Black and Brown communities. We have not only helped shape Oakland priorities for the next couple years, but have also sprouted seeds for future priorities and transformative action.