What are the Port Truckers demands?
Emission Fee: A fee payable directly to owners of 2007 EPA Compliant trucks, this fee would offset the additional cost of meeting with California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations. Our trucks are considered “clean” everywhere but the Port.
Congestion Fee: Port truckers regularly wait in lines for 2-8 hours to pick up a load. During that time, we are not allowed to get out of our trucks or turn off the engine. That means we’re urinating in water bottles, breathing in dangerous and disgusting fumes, burning expensive diesel fuel for which we are not compensated, and wasting time sitting in line when we need to be working to pay off our truck loans and feed our families. We want $50 per hour after the second hour we spend sitting in line at the port. The terminals could hire more longshoremen and make other changes to make this process more efficient and this fee would give them a financial incentive to do so.
Rate Adjustment: For the past ten years trucker rates have remained the same while the costs of working and living have risen. CARB Deadline Extension: On January 1st, all Port of Oakland trucks are expected to be 2007 or newer. This will put approximately 800 truckers out of work. The trucking companies have until 2020 to make the same upgrades. Most of us already have two loans out: the original loan for our trucks and the loan for the $20,000 filter we installed three years ago. Cranes and transtainers (machines that move containers inside the terminal) put out dirty emissions, but are not required to be compliant for several more years. Clean up the port with efficient terminals and up-to-date heavy machinery, not by making life impossible for the Port’s most exploited workers.
Why aren’t these truckers in a union, like the Teamsters or the ILWU?
The quick answer is that we cannot be legally recognized as a “union.” Through deregulation of the trucking industry and the creation of “independent contractor” and “owner/operator” status, the companies have organized our labor in a way that puts all of the risk and financial burdens on us. We are organizing against that despite the legal obstacles. While we have built our own organization specific to our jobs, we look forward to building alliances with other organized labor just as all of the unions do.
Who can grant the trucker’s demands?
The Port of Oakland has the power to grant our demands for green emissions fees and congestion fees. CARB and BAAQMD have the power to grant an extension on the 2014 emissions upgrades or provide funding for upgrades. The terminal operators can increase the price they pay us per load. The only place we can apply economic pressure simultaneously on all of these entities (the city, the port, CARB, the terminal operators and the trucking companies) is at the port.
Why do they picket at the port instead of at their companies?
First of all, it’s the port where all the money is generated. This is where we work, too. Secondly, there are literally hundreds of trucking companies, some of who only have a few trucks, or employ both contractors and owner-operators.
These companies are also spread all over northern CA, from Fresno to north of Sacramento. Can you imagine trying to get agreements from each of these companies? The Port of Oakland has the power to grant our demands for green emissions fees and congestion fees. CARB and BAAQM have the power to grant an extension on the 2014 emissions upgrades or provide funding for upgrades. The terminal operators can increase the price they pay us per load. The only place we can apply economic pressure simultaneously on all of these entities (the city, the port, CARB, the terminal operators and the trucking companies) is at the port.
Why don’t the truckers just stop working, instead of picketing ILWU gates?
The goal of a strike is to shut production down at the job site, period. For example, if plumbers strike at a construction site and set up a picket line, they expect that the other trades (electricians, carpenters) won’t cross the line. Would you expect the plumbers to rely on their own withdrawal of labor, while the other trades continue to build the building?
Why should other trades honor the picket line when even some trucks are rolling?
In most work forces, organized labor doesn’t represent all of the workers. In our case, attempting to have all truckers in one organization is even more complex. First, there are different types of truckers: employee/company drivers, independent contractors (they don’t own the truck, but are paid by the load), and owner-operators. Also, the relationships with the port are different, with some pulling multiple loads at the port every day, some once a month, to everything in between. Some trucks stay in the bay area, others pull loads all over northern California and Nevada, while still others pull loads across the country. It’s fair to say that it’s impossible to make sure that all these truckers are on board and know when an action is happening. Our organization is made up of the local drivers, and we’ve been successful in that very few of the local truckers have worked during our past strikes.