Dozens of advocates for construction workers in San Francisco’s southeast neighborhoods blocked vehicles from entering the Hunters Point Shipyard project site today, protesting what they said was a lack of job opportunities for residents living nearby.
Members of the Bayview-Hunters Point-based group Aboriginal Blackman United gathered at the intersection of Innes Avenue and Donahue Street this morning and stopped trucks and other vehicles from entering the site, where construction is set to begin this summer.
The redevelopment of the former naval shipyard is expected to eventually include thousands of new homes and new retail and commercial space being built over the next several years, according to project organizers.
The city’s Building Trades Council signed an agreement in 2007 with Lennar Urban, the company overseeing the Hunters Point redevelopment, to work with the local nonprofit Young Community Developers on local hire efforts for the project, council secretary-treasurer Michael Theriault said.
ABU president James Richards said his members are protesting because they “haven’t been brought to the table” in negotiations over who will be hired for the project.
The group held a similar protest at the site last week and will continue to take similar actions until Lennar and the city develop a plan to engage with them and other local job groups who want to work on the project, Richards said.
“The job is getting ready to get started,” he said. “I can’t lie down and let this happen.”
He said, “Our motto is if we don’t work, no one works.”
The group blocked several large trucks and other vehicles from turning left from Innes Avenue onto Donahue Street toward the worksite.
A couple of police patrol cars arrived at the intersection around noon to oversee the protest but did not stop the group from blocking traffic.
Derek Lynch, a member of a collective of artists who works at a studio at the shipyard unassociated with the construction project, was among the drivers who were blocked by the protesters.
Lynch said he was annoyed at being stopped since he and other artists are in favor of the neighborhood residents getting jobs on the project.
“We’re on their side as much as anyone,” he said.
Theriault said the city is not making any changes as a result of the protests.
“We will stand by all of our agreements,” he said, adding that Young Community Developers “will do a fine job of referring Bayview-Hunters Point residents” to jobs on the project.
Theriault said if ABU members “want a job, tell them to go sign up with YCD.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News