Oakland youth, clean air activists, workers and labor leaders rallied Wednesday to kick-off a boycott of Phil Tagami’s Rotunda Building in response to the developer’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland.
Tagami is suing to overturn the city’s ban on the handling and storing of coal so he can move forward with his controversial plan to ship coal from Utah to Asia through the Oakland Army Base.
The City Council banned the shipment of coal in June 2016. Tagami had originally pledged that coal would not be one of the products that would be transported through the new shipping terminals, but he later changed his position, entering a deal with corporations that own coal mines in Utah.
In response, activists are asking local businesses and organizations to boycott the Rotunda Building – an event space where progressive institutions host events – located at 300 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, near Oakland City Hall.
“This is the third time I’ve come to the Rotunda Building to tell Phil Tagami that Oakland doesn’t want dirty coal,” said Sonia Mendoza, Oakland student. “But he isn’t listening to kids like me. My best friend has asthma and has to use an inhaler.”
“She can’t always go outside and play like I can. If Phil Tagami brings coal to Oakland, more people will get asthma and other health problems. That’s why we’re boycotting – to get Tagami to listen to us,” said Mendoza
“Every dollar spent at the Rotunda Building is a dollar that Phil Tagami can use to try and force toxic coal dust on working class black and brown communities in Oakland” said Alicia Flores, a member of Teamsters 2010 and a member of the Climate Workers organizing committee.
“(This rally) put Tagami on notice that any events booked from this date forward until the day Tagami stands up for Oakland and drops the lawsuit should expect picket lines.”
Hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE also joined the boycott, raising the issue that Tagami’s Rotunda Building uses non-union labor for their events.
“Banquets held at the Rotunda Building are catered by non-union companies,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of UNITE HERE Local 2850.
“Working in the hospitality industry without a union can mean lower pay for workers, often times unaffordable healthcare, and always a lack of guaranteed contract rights,” said Huber.
“Banquet servers and hospitality workers are joining the call to boycott the Rotunda Building because we need good jobs in our community as well a healthy environment with clean air for our families to breathe.”