For Eusebio Caldera, New Year’s Day was less a cause for celebration than a source of anxiety. Caldera has hauled cargo to and from the Port of Oakland since emigrating from Nicaragua to the Bay Area 25 years ago, but on Wednesday he found himself out of work until he purchases a truck that meets new diesel pollution regulations set by the California Air Resources Control Board.
Caldera speaks limited English, but with the help of his son, Tarcilo, who also drives a tractor trailer at the port, he said that being out of work feels like a defeat.
“If we don’t work for a week that’s a $2,000 loss,” Tarcilo said. “My dad needs a truck so that he can work for at least the next eight years and retire.”
The Calderas are part of a loosely organized group of independent drivers, called the Port of Oakland Truckers Association, that has protested the emissions regulations. Members of the group acknowledge the regulations are needed – air quality in West Oakland is among the worst in the Bay Area, in part due to pollution from the port – but the truckers say they have been forced to foot an unfair share of the bill. The truckers’ protests have interrupted operations at the port several times since August, and throughout the fall and winter they have warned that some drivers would find themselves out of work on Jan. 1.
For most of that time, the Calderas were searching for a compliant truck for Eusebio. The regulations require him to purchase a rig with an engine built since 2007. Just before the deadline, the Calderas managed to sell Eusebio’s old truck, but they have yet to locate a replacement.