Happy New Year from the Port of Oakland Truckers Association

New Year Letter from POTA

This year was an eventful one for POTA. We formed this summer and by the end of the year, we accomplished quite a bit. We became a recognized organization by the port, the city, the state, trucking companies, brokers and terminals. We are in a better bargaining position than ever, and we’ve got a lot of support from the community, who are finally aware of the issues we face.

This summer we started with a work stoppage in August that really got people’s attention. In October when we stopped work again, we shut the port down for 2 days. That gave us an opportunity to negotiate better conditions and compensation with the mayor, CARB and port director Chris Lytle. Over 70 truckers came in a convoy to those negotiations and showed them the power we have. When we did actions again in November, we slowed the port down to 10% of normal operations during a very busy week.

We are very proud of these accomplishments!

The truckers in POTA have built a lot of power this year, and it belongs to all of us. We are building relationships with each other and with the community so that we can continue to improve our conditions and pay. As we move into the New Year, we want to build a better organization where everyone’s voice is heard. We will be working closely with the entire membership to make POTA a stronger and more effective organization. Now that we have some down time to refocus, we want to create a structure that allows everyone to participate and takes into account everyone’s ideas.

We have a lot of things to work on in 2014! We need to make sure drivers are aware of the rate increases companies are being paid, so they can be sure that they receive those increases too. We want to grow our membership and better support our existing members. We want to see POTA win victories for:

  • The Green Emissions Fee & the Congestion Fee
  • Rate increases
  • Signs for drivers with terminal information
  • Better access to restrooms
  • Safer conditions and dignity and respect for drivers

We know that we can achieve these things with your support. Together we are powerful!

Wishing you and your family a prosperous and joyous New Year,

The Port of Oakland Truckers Association

Report Back from Port Trucker Action at Port on Black Friday

Truckers were back at the port at 5am Friday morning, after a brief holiday break with their families. They set up a picket line at AMPCO truck parking lot on Middle Harbor Road, while supporters trickled in, reaching a critical mass just before 6am.

Early Morning Friday Picket
Picketing truckers turn away a car at the AMPCO truck parking lot at 5:30am on Black Friday

Truckers held the line for over 2 and a half hours while police scrambled to mobilize enough officers to break the lines. During that time, cars did not enter the lot and trucks did not leave.

Dawn Friday Picket
The sun rises on a long line of picketers braving the cold

The police illegally broke up the picket using a dispersal order and kettle just after 7:30 a.m, after trying unsuccessfully with fewer officers throughout the morning.

cops friday picket
Oakland Police assemble in preparation for breaking the picket line

After the line was broken, Port Truckers gathered for an emergency meeting to decide on further steps. As they build for a longer campaign for fair pay and humane treatment on the port, they will need lots of support!

Port officials reported on Friday that the port was operating at 30% of usual capacity, and trucking company owners reported having a difficult time finding drivers willing to work. “I tried calling everyone. They said they won’t work so long as there’s a strike going on down here,” said one company owner, who wished to remain anonymous.

Truck lots around the port demonstrated clearly what port officials and company owners were talking about. They were full of trucks on one of the busiest days of the season.

Trucker lots overflowing during strike action last Friday

Mid-day Press Release from Port Truckers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, November 27, 2013

email: portofoaklandtruckers@gmail.com


Oakland, CA – Truckers working at the Port of Oakland began a major work stoppage this morning in protest of unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices by terminal owners and Port of Oakland management.

Primary pickets were set up at the four SSA terminal gates beginning at 5am, but due to violent police action, lines began migrating between gates to prevent arrest and detainment of picketers. At least one person picketing was struck by the vehicle of a terminal employee crossing the picket line, and as of 10:30am, there were 5 arrests. Those arrested were cited and released. One police officer was injured when a car crossing the truckers’ picket line ran over his foot.

“The police were pushing us off the picket lines even though the judge said it’s illegal. After last time when they hit people with batons, people were afraid, but they kept moving to hold the lines,” said local port trucker Jose Gomez.

Despite some short lines in the morning, trucker traffic was down by 90%. “Normally, at this time of day the SSA gate has lines of trucks going all the way down the street in both directions, with trucks waiting in the center lanes as well. Today the lines were very short and mostly outside drivers,” said Gomez, “It’s important because SSA has a lot of ships coming in today and they are not going to be able to get trucks to take the loads.”

“When the local drivers won’t work, the port won’t work. Even if we are not the majority group of truckers servicing the port, we do the majority of the work,” said Roberto Ruiz, another local driver.

Some truckers who crossed picket lines today claimed they faced retaliation from their companies. During the last work stoppage, notoriously bad trucking dispatch company GSC charged their drivers illegal demurrage fees for honoring picket lines. When drivers refused to pay, they found deductions in their pay checks. While some long-distance truckers and employee drivers crossed picket lines, the vast majority of independent contractor truckers picketed or refused to take loads today. “In my company, there is no one working,” said Jonas, a local driver. Another driver claimed only one person from his company chose to work today.

At 10a.m. most of the supporters, media and police trickled out, while more truckers gathered at the primary SSA trucker entrance and resumed pickets on their own. Without the heavy police presence that accompanied activists and supporters, they were able to hold the picket lines at SSA. Whether local port truckers will continue the work stoppage after today is unclear.


The Port of Oakland Truckers Association is a self-organized group of owner-operator truckers, formed to unite owner-operator truckers on the Port of Oakland so that all Port truckers have the opportunity to make a sustainable living.  oaklandporttruckers.wordpress.com

Truckers Plan Work-Stoppage at Port of Oakland Beginning Wednesday Morning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, November 27, 2013

email: portofoaklandtruckers@gmail.com


Oakland, CA – Truckers working at the Port of Oakland will begin a major work stoppage this morning in protest of unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices by terminal owners and Port of Oakland management. “We want to put an end to inhumane treatment. We need safer conditions and better compensation,” says port trucker Isaiah Thompson. This will be the third work stoppage this year.

As independent contractors, port truckers cannot join or form a traditional union to bargain, but as conditions continue to deteriorate on the Port, they have organized themselves into a group they are calling the Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA). POTA board member Jorge Esparza addressed a crowd of POTA truckers late Tuesday night, “I don’t care how you came to this country, if you flew, if you drove, if you ran, but I know you didn’t come here to be treated this way.” The vast majority of truck drivers on the port are immigrants.

There are many types of truck drivers who work at the Port of Oakland, but POTA is comprised of local, owner-operators and independent contractor truckers who live in the Bay Area. In previous work stoppages, other types of drivers have crossed their picket lines, but this time they are hoping employee drivers and out-of-area drivers from other cities and states will support them. “Shorter lines and more efficient terminals mean better working conditions for all the truckers at the port, and better air quality for Oakland,” said port trucker Roberto Ruiz. “All of us truckers breathe the air here and all of us sit for hours inside the terminal with no bathroom. The changes we are asking for will help all the drivers here at the port.”

During negotiations, representatives of POTA pushed for an extension of the CARB-enforced January 1 deadline to acquire trucks built in 2007 or later in order to continue working at the port. In addition, they requested grant funding to help 800 at-risk truckers offset the financial burden of costly truck upgrades required by current law. CARB denied these requests and claimed the deadline could not be extended and available monies had already been reallocated.

To encourage efficiency at the port, POTA demands include a congestion fee of $50 per hour after the first two hours truckers spend waiting in line to pick up a load. The association is also asking for an emissions fee of $50 per load for all Port of Oakland truck drivers to help offset the costs of buying and maintaining CARB-compliant trucks. Finally, the association is demanding transparency in CARB’s relationship with the Port of Oakland, specifically in the enforcement of regulations outlining minimum efficiency of terminal operation.

Port truckers will begin their work stoppage coinciding with the start of the Longshoremen’s morning shift, when the terminal gates open to trucks.  They are asking for supportive community members to join them at the Port of Oakland at 5am.


The Port of Oakland Truckers Association is a self-organized group of owner-operator truckers, formed to unite owner-operator truckers on the Port of Oakland so that all Port truckers have the opportunity to make a sustainable living.  oaklandporttruckers.wordpress.com

Interviews on KPFA with Oakland’s Port Truckers

Marie Choi interviews Tarcilo Caldera on Up Front

Davey D interviews Isaiah Thompson on Hard Knock Radio

POTA Sends Formal Demands to City, Port, CARB

Port of Oakland Truckers Association
2777 Middle Harbor Rd
Oakland, CA 94607

Tuesday, November 24, 2013

Chris Lytle, Executive Director of the Port of Oakland
Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board
Cestra Butner, President of the Board of Port Commissioners
James C McKenna, President and CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association
Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland

Dear Mr. Lytle, Ms. Nichols, Mr. Butner, Mr. McKenna, and Mayor Quan:

We appreciate the opportunities that we have had to meet and discuss the problems that we face working at the Port of Oakland. We were especially grateful for the opportunity to present to you our immediate concern that as many as 800 of our fellow drivers may not be able to continue to work at the Port of Oakland after January 1, 2014.  We had high hopes that you and the entities that you represent would help us find solutions to the problems that plague our members.

Immediately, we had hoped that CARB would grant an extension to the deadline requiring us to upgrade our trucks to meet emission standards that are unique to trucks that service the Port of Oakland. Many of our members have not been able to find financially viable avenues to secure the trucks that would allow us to continue working. The financial burden is unjustly placed on us. Our portion of the revenue we receive that is created at the port is not nearly enough to place this burden on us. The funding options previously available proved difficult for our members to access. Many of us found that the conditions placed on receiving the funding made it inadequate to offset the costs to us. Absent an extension, funding from CARB, Port of Oakland, City of Oakland, or PMA in the amount of $25,000 dollars per truck (without conditions) would be adequate for our members. We had been told that an amount that would cover that cost has been reallocated to a funding program for road trucks. We believe that it is within your power to make that funding available to us and ask you to do so.

A further method of offsetting the continuing costs which we have been unfairly burdened with into the future is the implementation of a Green Emissions Fee. This is a fee of $50 per load paid to the trucker which enables them to afford the maintenance, upgrades, and inspections required to continue being compliant. We believe that it is in the power of the Port of Oakland and the Pacific Maritime Association to implement this fee.

To address the issue of congestion at Port of Oakland, we would like to see the implementation of a Congestion Fee of $50 per hour paid to any trucker that is forced to wait more than two hours to pick up a load.  We are powerless to change the conditions that create the horrible congestion at the Port of Oakland and it is unfair that we are currently unpaid for all of this time. If we worked for a wage, this would be considered wage theft. Our main interest in the implementation of this fee, however, is to encourage efficiency at the Port of Oakland. If the time that we are required to idle in line at the port is decreased, so are the pollutants that are emitted by our trucks. We want to be able to get in and out of the terminals quickly in order to earn money and also to limit our own exposure to the harmful environment at the Port of Oakland. There are many ways that we believe the Port of Oakland could become more efficient including hiring more Longshoremen per shift as well as adding and upgrading port equipment such as transtainers. The layout of the terminal entrances could also be reengineered to increase efficiency. We are the victims of the Port’s inefficiency and should be compensated for the encumbrance.

Regrettably, there has been no agreement reached on any of the items that we raised. In fact, there have been no offers of any kind that we could present to our membership. The City of Oakland has started legal proceedings against two of our members while claiming to be working to bring us solutions. The inaction of all parties addressed in this letter lead us to believe that there are no intentions to agree to any of the items that we need.

We do not want to refuse to work or to protest at the Port of Oakland. We want to work and we need to work in order to provide for ourselves and our families.  Under the current conditions and upcoming hardships, that is not possible. The parties addressed in this letter have forced truckers to take action that we would prefer to avoid. It has been proven to us that the only time any of those addressed here have been willing to listen to us has been when we spoke by protesting and withholding our labor at the Port. It has been made clear to us that we need to speak louder.

We encourage all parties to agree to the following items in writing by 5pm, Tuesday, November 26 in order to avoid a work stoppage by the Port of Oakland Truckers Association:

1)      A one year extension or unconditional funding in the amount of $25,000 per truck to become compliant with CARB regulations

2)      Implementation of  a Green Emissions Fee of $50 per load paid to the trucker

3)      Implementation of a Congestion Fee of $50 per hour whenever a truck waits an excess of two hours to pick up a load

4)      An end to any and all retribution against our members including dropping the injunctions and any other legal proceedings directed toward our members.

We hope that there can be a resolution that allows us to continue to work and provide the service that allows the Port of Oakland to operate. We are prepared to stop work and protest at the Port of Oakland beginning on Wednesday, November 27 and continue actions until a resolution can be reached.


The Port of Oakland Truckers Association

Tired of Carrying the Load

Tired of Carrying the Load
David Firestein

As some of you may have heard, last week, the Port of Oakland Truckers Association voted to authorize a strike. Even after that vote, they left open the possibility of negotiation, but when by Friday their demands were not met, they voted to stop work at the Port on Wednesday. Right now, the truckers are facing some pretty daunting odds. They have only one month left before new regulations will essentially put 800 people out of work.

The truckers have gone to the state regulatory commission CARB and asked for help meeting the standards to no avail.

The truckers have gone to the Port of Oakland and asked for the sort of assistance that other ports up and down the west coast are offering to truckers, but again they’ve been turned down.

The truckers have gone to the City of Oakland and asked for assistance from the Mayor and City Council to help sway the Port Commissioners, but from the Mayor all they got was lip service followed by increased antagonism in the form of legal action against them for threatening the flow of commerce at the Port.

They’ve been pushed to a point where asking nicely has given them nothing, not even help with low interest loans that the state actually promised them when the new regulations were passed. CARB has made sure that drivers will not be able to get these loans by refusing to offer the paperwork in other languages or to provide reasonable amounts of time to complete them. CARB is now saying that time is up,and the money dedicated to those loans has been reallocated.

Despite the loans the truckers are still paying off on their rigs, despite the loans they took out just a couple years ago to pay for $20,000 filters that they were told would make them compliant or $40,000 engines that they were told would make them compliant, now they’re being asked to take out more loans to buy new $80,000 trucks or lose the ability to work at the port. And on top of all that, the Port of Oakland hasn’t raised the payment for moving a load in decades. These drivers are making as little as $50-60 a load and trying to support their families in an Oakland where prices are skyrocketing. When a mandate came down saying that wages had to increase, some companies complied by raising the rate by fifty cents. Meanwhile drivers are stuck in endless lines where they are harassed and taunted by companies like SSA, and they’re forced to urinate into bottles because stepping out of their rigs can get them banned from the Port.

Frankly, I probably wouldn’t have attempted all those polite measures before striking back, but the truckers did. I’d also probably be demanding more than they are, but the truckers aren’t. The things they’re asking for are so basic and obvious that it’s absolutely unbelievable that the Port wouldn’t comply. And yet, the Port isn’t. Instead, they’re being told by CARB that if they want the grants that were promised to them, they have to agree not to work at the Port for 3 years. They’re being told by the Mayor’s office that the city will look and see if it has money after January 1st (the day when 800 of them will have already lost their jobs).

In the face of this insanity, what else can the truckers do but strike? For too long they’ve worked in intolerable conditions for substandard wages while the Port and the companies there have made BILLIONS of dollars. The truckers aren’t asking for all the money; they’re only asking to be treated like people and paid a wage similar to what truckers in other ports are making. But they’re tired of carrying the load while everyone else gets rich.

Now the time has come to fight back. This Wednesday, the truckers are taking the last action available to them. They are putting their bodies on the line and risking their livelihoods to get the attention of the Port the only way they can. If you can get to the port on Wednesday morning to help support their lines, that will be helpful. Whether or not you can make it to the pickets, please give what you can to the strike fund. Every dollar helps, but it’s gonna take a lot more dollars than what they have now in order to sustain a lengthy strike, should one happen.

So get your asses down to the port because if the truckers can’t get paid, nobody gets paid.

Oakland Port Truckers Vote to Strike Wednesday

Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) members voted unanimously late Friday evening to stop work at the port on Wednesday, November 27. They’ve met with city, state and federal regulators, terminal managers, and Port of Oakland officials many times since their August 19 work stoppage, but have not made any gains on their demands. On November 13, truckers met with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson, Port Executive Director Chris Lytle, as well as California Air Resources Board (CARB) members, expecting to bring offers of an extension from CARB or funding from the City and Port, but were forced to return to their membership without any offers to present.

“The Mayor said she was going to help us, but during the meeting she seemed more interested in her phone than in what we were saying,” said POTA board member Jorge Esparza.

On January 1, 800 port truckers who will lose their jobs when new state regulations go into effect, preventing them from working at the port. The majority of truckers have purchased new trucks, which cost between $50,000 and $80,000, and many are applying for microloans to pay loan payments on upgraded trucks just to keep working. One of POTA’s demands is a green emissions fee – a tariff on each container, imposed on terminals by the Port of Oakland, paid to truckers to offset the costs of meeting state regulations.

POTA demands include a congestion fee of $50 per hour after the first two hours truckers spend waiting in line to pick up a load, to compensate them for work that is currently unpaid and to encourage terminal efficiency. They are also demanding a rate increase, their first in nearly 10 years. Finally, the association is pushing for transparency in CARB’s relationship with the Port of Oakland, specifically in the enforcement of regulations outlining minimum efficiency of terminal operation.

“If they won’t give us an extension or money for upgrades by January, it only makes it more important that we get the green emissions fee, congestion fee and rate increase we’re demanding,” said Roberto Ruiz, a trucker at the port. “We have so much debt and we can’t afford the monthly payments that we have to make just to keep working.”

It’s unclear how long truckers plan to stop work at the port. The holiday season is typically a very busy time for container ports, and the Port of Oakland is no exception.

“They didn’t even want to meet with us until we stopped working, but we need more than meetings. They don’t care about people, they just care about money, said Ruiz. “We don’t want to stop working, we need to make a living, but this is the only thing they respond to.”

Earning the Ticket: An Interview with Tarcilo Caldera, Oakland Port Trucker and POTA activist

Awesome interview with Tarcilo, an Oakland port trucker, from hyphenatedrepublic.wordpress.com

POTA Reaches Out to the ILWU for Support