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Unpaid Wait Time, Costly Truck Upgrade Compliance Force Oakland Trucker Strike Into Third Day


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Members of the Port of Oakland Trucker Association, a group that represents independent contractors who can not organize with a union, refused to work on Monday shutting down the SSA Marine’s Oakland International Container Terminal.  The group represents about a quarter of the truckers who work at the port.  In a statement the group laid out its position:

In ten years, the pay per cargo load has not increased, while the cost of diesel has more than quadrupled, and costs for truck maintenance have skyrocketed. Despite the long list of grievances the truckers have, which include unsafe working conditions, verbal abuse from terminal employees, a single men’s restroom for all truckers to use, and daily hours of unpaid time spent waiting for a load, they are only asking for three things from the Port of Oakland and terminal owners. POTA’s demands are simple: a Green Emissions Fee, $50 paid to truckers monthly to offset the cost of upgrading trucks to new green emissions standards, an extension for compliance with new environmental standards that will go into effect for owner-operators on January 1, 2014, and a Congestion Fee paid to compensate truckers for hours, currently unpaid, spent waiting for a cargo load, and an increase in pay per cargo load.

The work stoppage began at 5AM and lasted throughout the day.  Last week, a Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against the workers to ensure the port was not shut down due to the upcoming action.  The preemptive move came after a similar two-day action in August cost “millions in business losses and work hours.”

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.”

In joining the Port of Oakland Trucker Association, independent contractors are seeking to have their voices heard as rules and regulations continue to hurt their bottom line.  Trucker Frank Adams told KGO-TV, “We want to be on the bargaining table. We want to have dialogue, but we want action to be done.”

Lack of compensation during waiting time for loads is a common and costly annoyance:

Driver Herbert Olivares stood at the gate to Terminal 60 at dawn this morning, and explained what happened last Friday while waiting to drop off an empty container. “I started the line here around 11:50 a.m., and I didn’t get out of the terminal until 4:30 in the afternoon,” Olivares said. “Just one box. I didn’t get paid for the waiting time.”
The strike is entering its third day.


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