Mid-day Press Release from Port Truckers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, November 27, 2013
OAKLAND PORT TRUCKERS SUCCESSFULLY STOP MAJORITY OF LOCAL DRIVER WORK AT PORT
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