By Post Staff
Independent truckers who work at the 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. Until recently a driver could make three local round trips to the port per day. Now, with increased inefficiencies at terminals, specially the SSA terminal, they can only make one 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, and 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.
Many of the truckers did not want to identify themselves, saying they fear they will face lawsuits in retaliation for their work stoppage.
They timed the stoppage with the start of the longshoremen’s morning shift. The truckers asked for supporters to join them at the port at 5 a.m.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 25, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)