Independent Truckers Hold Work Stoppage at Port of Oakland

Independent truckers shut down the Port of Oakland Monday. Many of the truckers did not want to give their names, fearing they will face lawsuits in retaliation for their protest. Photo by Ken A. Epstein

Independent truckers shut down the Port of Oakland Monday. Many of the truckers did not want to give their names, fearing they will face lawsuits in retaliation for their protest. Photo by Ken A. Epstein

Independent truckers who work at Port of Oakland held a work stoppage Monday to protest working conditions at the port.

“We need safer conditions and better compensation,” says port trucker Isaiah Thompson.

Truckers and their supporters picketed outside three entrances to the SSA Marine terminal, shutting down cargo traffic because crane operators and other terminal workers refused to cross the protest line.

Economic activity at the port amounts to about $8 million a day.

As owner operators of their own trucks, the protesters are organized informally, holding meetings at a park near port terminals.

Drivers are making three basic demands. One is for companies to raise the rate per container hauled. In 10 years, the pay per cargo load has not increased, while the cost of diesel has more than quadrupled, and costs for truck maintenance have skyrocketed.

They want a congestion fee paid to compensate truckers for hours, currently unpaid, spent waiting for a cargo load, and an increase in pay per cargo load. Until recently a driver could make three local trips to the trip per day. Now, with increased inefficiencies at terminals, specially the SSA terminal, they can only make one trip a trip a day.

They also want a Green Emissions Fee, $50 paid to truckers monthly to offset the cost of upgrading trucks to new green emissions standards, an extension for compliance with new environmental standards that will go into effect for owner-operators on Jan.1.

Without compensation, or an extension several hundred owners operations may be put out of business.

Some truckers met with port officials and representatives of the SSA terminal after their last work stoppage on Aug.19, but those talks did not yield results, according to truckers

Truckers are saying they sent a letter to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in August asking for her to intervene to avoid the work stoppage. “This letter went unanswered.,” they said.

Most of the truckers did not want to identify themselves, since they fear they will face lawsuits in retaliation for their work stoppage.

They timed the stoppage with the start of Longshoremen’s morning shift. They called for supporters to join them at the port at 5 a.m.

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