Port of Oakland truck drivers are planning to stop work and begin picketing Monday morning. The drivers are protesting chronic congestion at the port, which they say has created dangerous working conditions.
“We are desperate for help,” said Frank Adams, with the Port of Oakland Truckers Association. “We are trying just to be treated humanely.”
Long turnaround times at the port have sliced into drivers’ profits, Adams said. Many drivers own their own trucks and are paid by the load, not by the hour. At the same time, their fuel costs have climbed because they spend hours idling while waiting to pick up cargo.
The drivers say they are also protesting regulations imposed by the California Air Resources Board, which would require them to upgrade their trucks before the end of the year.
The truckers are demanding a congestion fee that would compensate them for the extra hours they spend waiting in line at the Port. They are also calling for financial assistance, and a longer timeframe, to help them meet the air pollution requirements.
The truckers are planning to begin picketing at 5 a.m. They will focus on the Oakland International Container Terminal, which is operated by SSA Marine. The terminal is one of seven at the port and, according to the truckers, the site of the most severe congestion.
Representatives of the Port of Oakland couldn’t be reached for comment on Sunday evening.
The action comes in the wake of a previous work stoppage by the drivers this August. Since then, many of their complaints have remained the same, but they have become better organized.
Adams said that over the past several months, drivers have formed the non-profit Port of Oakland Truckers Association, which helped organize the strike. Adams is on the Association’s board of directors, and he said the group’s membership consists of about a tenth of the roughly 2,000 drivers who operate at the Port.
The Truckers Association has reached out to members of Oakland’s Occupy community in an attempt to spread the work about the work stoppage.
Lauren Smith, who participated in the Occupy protests that shut down the Port of Oakland in 2011, said the collaboration between the two groups was almost accidental. She and several other former Occupy members learned about the strike when they attended one of the truckers’ meetings on Friday, October 17.
After a planning meeting with the truckers in downtown Oakland on Sunday afternoon, she noted that she and other Occupy members already knew a thing or two about disrupting operations at the port.
“It was really convenient,” she said.