We were calling it “Our Summer of Discontent,” but we are fast approaching winter and the discontent hasn’t let up. The issues with terminal mergers and the resulting upheaval have created roadblocks we continue to struggle through today. Drivers are wary of the delays and inconsistent service. Their nerves are frayed, their frustration grows and many are fed up and choosing to leave the industry.
To add fuel to the already raging fire, there continues to be on-going driver protests. There have been three staged blockades at the Port of Oakland since August with the latest being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Friday after, November 27th and 29th. The protests have been organized by the Port of Oakland Trucker Association (POTA), which is a group of independent contractors serving the port. They continue to fight for a delay to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) impending truck retirement deadline as well as pressure the port to pay a $50/container Green Truck Fee and a $50/hour Congestion Fee. Neither of which will happen.
The port has been working with motor carriers and cargo owners to encourage pay advancements to drivers in order to help defray the costs of the newer, more expensive equipment. They are not, however, going to let the protests stop commerce. The port has filed an injunction against the protesters and has been closely coordinating with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department to keep the gates clear and open. The sticky wicket to productivity on these protest days is to what extent the ILWU will honor their picket lines. Despite an arbitrator ruling there is no health and safety concerns as a result of the demonstrations, ILWU, and therefore productivity, is nevertheless hampered.
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For information on POTA’s demands, click here.
For the port and city’s response, click here.