Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) shut down multiple terminals during morning shift


Solidarity With Port Truckers on their Picket Lines!
By Port Truckers Solidarity
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
5:00am until 9:00pm in PST
We need folks with cars to volunteer to shuttle people from West Oakland BART from 4:30am to 5:30am. This job pays in coffee, perhaps donuts, but mostly satisfaction that you are lending needed material support to some really inspiring workers!
Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) members voted unanimously late Friday evening to stop work at the port on Wednesday, November 27. They’ve met with city, state and federal regulators, terminal managers, and Port of Oakland officials many times since their August 19 work stoppage, but have not made any gains on their demands. On November 13, truckers met with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Deputy Mayor SandrĂ© Swanson, Port Executive Director Chris Lytle, as well as California Air Resources Board (CARB) members, expecting to bring offers of an extension from CARB or funding from the City and Port, but were forced to return to their membership without any offers to present.
 “The Mayor said she was going to help us, but during the meeting she seemed more interested in her phone than in what we were saying,” said POTA board member Jorge Esparza.
On January 1, 800 port truckers who will lose their jobs when new state regulations go into effect, preventing them from working at the port. The majority of truckers have purchased new trucks, which cost between $50,000 and $80,000, and many are applying for microloans to pay loan payments on upgraded trucks just to keep working. One of POTA’s demands is a green emissions fee – a tariff on each container, imposed on terminals by the Port of Oakland, paid to truckers to offset the costs of meeting state regulations.
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, to compensate them for work that is currently unpaid and to encourage terminal efficiency. They are also demanding a rate increase, their first in nearly 10 years. Finally, the association is pushing for transparency in CARB’s relationship with the Port of Oakland, specifically in the enforcement of regulations outlining minimum efficiency of terminal operation.
“If they won’t give us an extension or money for upgrades by January, it only makes it more important that we get the green emissions fee, congestion fee and rate increase we’re demanding,” said Roberto Ruiz, a trucker at the port. “We have so much debt and we can’t afford the monthly payments that we have to make just to keep working.”
It’s unclear how long truckers plan to stop work at the port. The holiday season is typically a very busy time for container ports, and the Port of Oakland is no exception.
“They didn’t even want to meet with us until we stopped working, but we need more than meetings. They don’t care about people, they just care about money, said Ruiz. “We don’t want to stop working, we need to make a living, but this is the only thing they respond to.”


"Port Of Oakland Truckers Shut Down Multiple Terminals During Morning Shift"
2013-10-21 by "Port of Oakland Truckers Association", 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.
Press Release regarding today's strike and port shutdown. 
Monday, October 21, 2013 –
Hundreds of independent truckers with over 100 public supporters turned out at the Port of Oakland this morning at 5a.m. in protest of escalating costs for truckers and deteriorating conditions on the Port.  Oakland Port Truckers have formed the Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) to organize for better conditions and compensation. Over a hundred truckers met on Friday and unanimously voted to shut down work today.  Owner-operator truckers are demanding that terminal owners, who make massive profits each year, offset the expense of costly upgrades needed for trucks to be in compliance with new environmental laws by paying a fee of $50 for each load. Truckers are also asking to be paid when they are forced to sit in long lines waiting for cargo loads for two hours or more. They can wait in lines up to 8 hours, which limits the amount of loads they can haul in a day and requires them to burn fuel, which they pay for. With the new SSA merger of multiple terminals on the port, congestion is at an all-time high, while SSA has only hired 20 new Longshoremen to alleviate Port traffic. Workers say they have not had any increase in pay since they last shut down the port nearly 10 years ago, while gas has more than quadrupled and maintenance costs have soared. In 2004, a coordinated work stoppage by independent truckers in Los Angeles, Oakland and Stockton had similar demands.  Starting at 5a.m. today, truckers staged picket lines at multiple terminals, and asked the public to support them at the largest, SSA. Alameda County Sheriff Deputies attacked picket lines, injuring at least two, and forced many picketers onto the sidewalk. They cited a law prohibiting people from blocking thoroughfares and a restraining order from the Port and City of Oakland, but Dan Siegal, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild who was onsite, confirmed that the pickets were legal and neither the law cited nor the restraining order were grounds to deny the truckers the right to picket.  Labor arbitrators refused to rule the police presence and pickets were a safety hazard to ILWU Longshoremen, but the Longshoremen refused to cross the picket line and went home for the day. The ruling means they will not be paid. The two largest terminals were shut down, and multiple smaller terminals were disrupted or shut down.  Port Truckers will be returning to the Port at 5:30p.m. to shut down the evening shift, and are asking supporters from the public to join them again at the SSA Terminal at 1717 Middle Harbor Road. 

Port of Oakland Truckers and community picket broken up and kettle tactic used to open the gate for the evening shift, 8pm Oct 21st, 2013. (photo by Charles Rachlis)

"Some truckers halt work at Port of Oakland"
2013-10-21 by Henry K. Lee from "San Francisco" [sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Some-truckers-halt-work-at-Port-of-Oakland-4912965.php]:
Truckers at the Port of Oakland refused to work Monday to protest what they called unfair labor practices and unsafe working conditions.
The Port of Oakland Truckers Association, which represents about a quarter of the drivers who bring cargo to and from the port, organized the work stoppage. It said its members were independent contractors who can't join a union but have organized to fight "deteriorating conditions."
The group said truckers have not seen any increase in the payment per cargo load in 10 years, while the cost of diesel has quadrupled.
"We want to put an end to inhumane treatment," Isaiah Thompson, a member of the truckers group, said in a statement. "We need safer conditions and better compensation."
The group is seeking a $50 monthly "green emissions fee" to offset the cost of upgrading trucks to meet new exhaust standards, more time to comply with environmental standards set to take effect Jan. 1, and compensation for the hours truckers spend waiting unpaid for a load. The truckers also want more pay per cargo load.
Truckers have also complained about the lack of portable toilets. After a meeting with port officials following the group's last work stoppage in August, six toilets were added to the area where trucks pick up and drop loads, the group said.
The latest work stoppage began at 5 a.m. and continued throughout the day. Organizers said it was unclear whether it would last into Tuesday.
On Thursday, Judge Lawrence Appel of Alameda County Superior Court, at the request of the city of Oakland, issued a temporary restraining order barring truckers from blocking people or cars from entering or exiting the port. Protesters appeared to be abiding by the order while being monitored by Oakland police and sheriff's deputies, and most terminals remained open.
In court filings, a port official noted that the truckers enter into contracts with brokers, who in turn agree to contracts with the port's tenants and others to haul freight.
"It is vital to avoid any delays when exporting time-sensitive goods like fresh produce," wrote Jean Baker, the port's deputy executive director and acting director of maritime. "It is therefore critical that the roadways and marine terminal gates at the Port of Oakland are safe, secure and open for business so that no delays occur in goods movement."
Port officials said the truckers' two-day work stoppage in August caused "millions in business losses and work hours."
In a statement Monday, Port of Oakland officials said they "empathize with the truckers" because of the economic downturn and had been "doing everything we can to facilitate solutions." But they said the protests were counterproductive.

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