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Oct. 12, 2011
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Labor Council Supports Environmental Review Process for Saltworks Project

The Saltworks Project in Redwood City has received a lot of attention in recent months, both from media outlets and from various unions. The San Mateo County Central Labor Council, within whose jurisdiction the project lies, has only taken the position to support the Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process. After a great deal of discussion in council meetings, we feel it is important to have an analysis that actually examines the plan and reveals additional issues that will need to be addressed if the project is to move forward. Once completed, we can review the results to determine what, if any, the position of our council should be.

Unfortunately, affiliated unions (and even some who are neither affiliated nor have affected workers in the area), have taken positions opposing the project before an analysis has been completed and without contacting our council to discuss the situation. We had sent affiliates our position in June of 2010 and have published it in our newspaper. Our hope is that unions who have concerns will bring them to us so that their viewpoints can be discussed and understood. Some have done so and are very positive about the potential additional jobs, not only in construction, but anticipated tonnage to the port in the 25 years, in which the project would be rolled out. Other concerns have been introduced and over time, the developer has adjusted the plan to address issues such as housing too close to industry, the rise in sea levels, open space and transportation. That process is not over, and as the EIR and CEQA endeavors continue, the plan will likely continue to evolve.

However, until those reviews are completed and discussed, the San Mateo County Central Labor Council will not take a formal position on the project.

Those of us who are concerned about environmental issues have long fought for a process that vets proposals to make sure that they are sound, compliant, and support an environmental focus. It is hypocritical for environmentalists to both advocate for having a process and then to attempt to prevent one from taking place. Unfortunately, Save the Bay has decided to launch a campaign against the proposal throughout the Bay Area. Save the Bay has contacted all elected officials who sit on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and all elected officials in counties touching the Bay, trying to get them to kill this project and even the EIR process to allow for analysis of it.

We ask you, as our esteemed colleagues, to respect the position of our organization and your relationship with us. We will continue to be available to hear your concerns and create opportunities for open exchange of ideas or issues. Please feel free to contact us. All of us want to get our questions answered and our concerns met; let’s do it as collegially as possible. Thank you for your willingness to consider this correspondence.

In Solidarity,
Shelley Kessler
Executive Secretary-Treasurer