Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Port of Oakland Truckers Picket SSA

About 25 percent of the drayage truck drivers serving the Port of Oakland conducted a work stoppage on Nov. 27, and the resulting protests led to both arrests and decreased productivity at multiple terminals.

Members of the Port of Oakland Truckers Association, a self-organized group of truck owner-operators, set up pickets at the port’s four SSA terminal gates beginning at 5 am on Nov. 27 and picket lines later began shifting between various gates. By 10:30 am, six people were detained for creating a hazard in a roadway, but were merely cited and released.

According to the Truckers Association, SSA truck traffic was down 90 percent during the first morning of the protest, however the port itself says there were no major disruptions in operations.

“Normally, at this time of day the SSA gate has lines of trucks going all the way down the street in both directions, with trucks waiting in the center lanes as well. Today the lines were very short and mostly outside drivers,” truck driver Jose Gomez said. “It’s important because SSA has a lot of ships coming in today and they are not going to be able to get trucks to take the loads.”

Truckers Association members voted unanimously Nov. 22 to stop work at the port on Wed., Nov. 27. Truckers Association representatives have been pushing for an extension of the California Air Resources Board-enforced deadline of Jan. 1 to acquire trucks built in 2007 or later in order to continue working at the port.

Under the regs, trucks built before 2007 can continue to operate at the port only if they undergo significant retrofitting, estimated about $80,000 per truck.

The Association has also asked for grant funding to help about 800 truckers offset the financial burden of costly truck upgrades required by the law. Those 800 drivers, according to the Truckers Association, will essentially lose their jobs once the regulations go into effect, since they won’t be able to work at the port.

The majority of truckers have already bought new trucks at a cost of between $50,000 and $80,000, and many are applying for microloans to pay loan payments on upgraded trucks just to keep working, according to the POTA. Because of this, the Truckers Association has also demanded that a green emissions fee – a tariff on each container, imposed on terminals by the Port of Oakland – be paid to truckers to offset the costs of meeting state regulations.

The truckers also seek a “congestion fee” of $50 per hour after the first two hours truckers spend waiting in line to pick up a load, to compensate them for work that is currently unpaid and to encourage terminal efficiency. They are also asking for a per-load rate increase.

The Truckers Association has said it is “unclear” whether the Nov. 27 protest was a one-day event, or if they plan to conduct similar actions in the future.