Protesters disrupt early morning shift at Port of Oakland

on December 13, 2011

Occupy Oakland protesters remained at the Port of Oakland through Monday night and into Tuesday morning, disrupting business for the third time in less than 24 hours, a spokesman for Occupy Oakland said.

Mike King, a spokesman for the Occupy Oakland Port Blockade Assembly, said about 300 people were set up at two terminals at the port for a 3 am shift of longshore workers. King said that longshore workers who showed up for work did not cross the line, and at 3:30 am received word from their employer that the shift had been cancelled. King said protesters remained at the port until 4 am.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said he could not confirm that workers did not report for work for the 3 am shift, but did say that companies at the port cancelled orders for the 7 pm shift Monday night, and that longshore workers did not report for work at that time.

At 6:30 am on Tuesday, Robert Bernarndo, the communications manager for the Port of Oakland, released a statement that “maritime operations are returning to normal.” The statement said that trucks had been lining up since 5:30 am and that International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers had been ordered to report to work for a 7 am shift. According to the statement, there were “no major injuries, damage or security breaches” at the port during any of the December 12 protests.

Protesters first disrupted work at the port early Monday morning. Just before dawn, a crowd of hundreds marched from West Oakland BART to the port and disrupted business, preventing big rig trucks from delivering cargo. Port officials maintained that the port remained operational throughout the morning, though no ships were loaded or unloaded and some longshoremen did not report to work.

On Monday evening, thousands of people marched to the port from downtown Oakland and West Oakland BART, effectively halting evening business at the port.

Now port officials say their employees are trying to compensate for work delays caused by yesterday’s demonstrations. “Due to the protests during the last 24 hours, there is a heavy backlog of work to get through,” said Bernardo’s statement.

The port protest was highly criticized by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. “People have to think about the consequences,” Quan said last night at a press conference in downtown Oakland. “People have to think about who are they hurting. They are saying, ‘We want to get the attention of the ruling class.’  Well, I think the ruling class is probably laughing, and people in this city will be crying this Christmas. It’s really got to stop.”

But King called the blockade “a tremendous success.”

“We took the fight to Wall Street on the waterfront, and we won,” King said. “And we will continue to fight.”

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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