Workforce Agreement Supports Local Labor for Oakland Hospital

Construction team will hire union workers and train local apprentices for proposed landmark hospital modernization project.

By Lorna Fernandes

UCSF Health and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals celebrated the signing of a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) on June 11, agreeing to prioritize local union workers for the construction of a proposed landmark hospital building and related site improvements on its Oakland site.

The agreement, signed by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County (BTCA) and the project’s general contractor, Rudolph and Sletten, confirms a mutual understanding to hire union workers and follow union hiring practices. An additional agreement was signed by Overaa Construction, the contractor selected for infrastructure improvements for the site.

As part of UCSF Health’s commitment to supporting the local economy, the agreements also set a 30% local hiring goal for both contractors and subcontractors.

This hospital and project are vital to the city of Oakland, and so, too, is supporting the construction and trades workers of our community.”

Nicholas Holmes, MD, MBA, president of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals

“We are investing in this hospital, in this city, to expand access to world-class care for any child for generations to come, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Nicholas Holmes, MD, MBA, president of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. “UCSF Health is committed to creating the region’s most comprehensive care network for kids, and UCSF Benioff Oakland is an integral piece of this vision. This hospital and project are vital to the city of Oakland, and so, too, is supporting the construction and trades workers of our community.”

The agreement was celebrated at a news conference that included senior leaders from UCSF Health and UCSF Benioff Oakland, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and other local elected officials, and leaders from local trade unions and construction firms involved in the project.

“Generations of Oakland families have relied on the Children’s Hospital, which has been an essential component of our community for over 100 years,” said Mayor Thao. “The construction and building trades are the backbone of Oakland, and this project will bring well-paid jobs for union construction workers, job training for apprentices, and new careers for veterans. I am thrilled to support it.”

UCSF Benioff Oakland is one of only six Level-1 pediatric trauma centers in California and is solely focused on children. Last year, the hospital served the community with more than 37,000 emergency room visits, 7,600 inpatient hospital stays, 6,000 surgeries and 284,000 outpatient specialty clinic visits. As a regional safety net hospital, nearly 80% of its patients are covered by Medi-Cal, the highest percentage statewide for a children’s hospital.

Pending approval from the UC Board of Regents, the $1.6 billion project is expected to require about 400 workers per year through 2030, when it will open as a state-of-the-art hospital and trauma center for children throughout the region. Overall, it is expected to provide 4.1 million work hours over the course of the five-year project.

“This project is a huge investment in our community that will include union workers from the ground up,” said BTCA Secretary-Treasurer Andreas Cluver, whose organization represents construction unions throughout the area. “We’re making sure that local residents have access to these jobs, whether they are new to construction or masters in their trade, and have the opportunity to build their careers along with the new hospital building.”

Bay Area construction company Rudolph and Sletten, Inc., will serve as the general contractor for the new hospital building project. Overaa Construction is the general contractor for a series of site improvements. Both were signatories to the agreement on behalf of their own firms and for subcontractors involved in the project.

“Rudolph and Sletten is proud to be part of this historic project to bring a world-class hospital to the children of the East Bay and Northern California,” said Gary Taylor, senior project executive at Rudolph and Sletten. “We’re proud to hire local, skilled union workers and we recognize that a project of this magnitude can provide beneficial employment opportunities for veterans and small and disadvantaged business enterprises.”

The CWA includes additional agreements to employ apprentices from a state-approved Joint Apprenticeship Training Program, and use the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment’s “Helmets to Hardhats” program to provide job training and mentorship for veterans interested in construction careers. It also sets a goal to contract with small, local businesses where possible.

UCSF Health will be seeking approval for the New Hospital Building project this summer from the UC Board of Regents.