PORT OF OAKLAND TRUCKERS ASSOCIATION VOTES TO AUTHORIZE THIRD WORK STOPPAGE
Following a meeting last Wednesday with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) convened a general membership meeting and voted unanimously for what amounts to a strike authorization if their demands aren’t met.
During the meeting, which included Mayor Jean Quan, Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson, and Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle, a group of activists and community members held a solidarity demonstration in front of City Hall while a near deafening convoy of over 70 port truckers circled Frank Ogawa Plaza in support of their representatives. Truckers honked their horns and community members engaged in a sympathetic noise demonstration for over an hour. Some of the signs on the trucks read “We Want Fair Rates and Respect” and “We Need to Work For the Future of Our Kids.”
“Oakland and the state of California cannot afford to lose 800 jobs. If this were Google or Yahoo laying off 800 workers, it would make national news,” said Frank Adams, a POTA board member.
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. Before the meeting ended, Mayor Quan and Director Chris Lytle claimed they would take a look into port and city finances to find funding for POTA truckers.
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.
POTA representatives have made it clear they expect response on funding from city and port officials by Wednesday, November 20. If they are denied funding again, a work stoppage may take place as early as next week. The group has organized two prior work stoppages since August of 2013.