Truckers Plan Work-Stoppage at Port of Oakland Beginning Wednesday Morning
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, November 27, 2013
TRUCKERS PLAN WORK-STOPPAGE AT PORT OF OAKLAND BEGINNING WEDNESDAY MORNING
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