Port of Oakland Truckers Association to Meet With City Officials Today For Last Best Offer
Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) board members are once again headed into talks with Oakland city officials today, to discuss funding for mandatory truck upgrades that are putting 800 port jobs on the line. Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson called the meeting just an hour and a half in advance of the 5pm Friday deadline truckers set last week, when they also unanimously voted for what amounts to a strike authorization.
“This is a big meeting for us, I hope it’s not just one more day for them to play with us,” said POTA board member Jorge Esparza.
With 800 jobs at risk, and many truckers applying for microloans to pay loan payments on upgraded trucks just to keep working, the stakes are high for Oakland’s Port Truckers, who have engaged in 3 work stoppages since August. “These truckers are paying so much money and taking on so much debt, just to keep working,” said Elizabeth Flynn, community activist and POTA supporter, “it is essentially indentured servitude.”
During negotiations last week, representatives of POTA requested an extension of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) 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. These requests were denied by CARB, which still has grant funding and low-interest loans for truckers who agree to stop working at the Port of Oakland and take longer trips out of town instead. For drivers who live in the Bay Area and need to stay close to their families, an offer to work in Fresno and elsewhere was impossible to accept. CARB refused to reallocate any of the funding to keep Oakland drivers working in Oakland. 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.
Truckers will meet tonight to discuss whatever offer, if any, comes from the City and Port of Oakland and decide on further steps. “People are ready to take action. We hate to do that, especially this time of year, but the drivers need a merry Christmas too,” said Esparza.