Trucker protests "shut down operations" at Port of Oakland
Protests by truckers brought operations to a halt at the Port of Oakland on Wednesday, as they demonstrated against a new state labor law.
The new law, formally called AB5, sets tougher standards for classifying workers as independent contractors, which will make it harder for independent truckers to operate.
According to Reuters, drivers picketed gates and blocked other truckers from hauling cargo in and out of the major port, which is one of the busiests in the United States.
The protests in the Northern California city began on Monday and have grown larger and more disruptive with each passing day.
The message from the protesters on Wedensday was: "Cargo won’t flow until AB5 goes"
In a statement released on Wedensday evening, the Port of Oakland said the protests had "effectively shut down operations" at its shipping terminals. The shutdown will "further exacerbate" the congestion of containers, it added.
“We understand the frustration expressed by the protestors at California ports,” said Danny Wan, Executive Director, Port of Oakland, “But, prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market share losses to competing ports.”
AB5 is state law adopted in 2018 that the courts have affirmed when the United States Supreme Court denied review of the law.
The law requires companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees, but there are some exceptions in the law across industries.
The majority of truck drivers in California are owner-operator and many in this job category are concerned about their future. An estimated 70,000 truckers who own and drive their own trucks would fall under this law and they do not want to become an employee or part of a union in order to work.
“Truckers are vital to keeping goods moving,” said Wan, "We trust that implementation of AB5 can be accomplished in a way that accommodates the needs of this vital part of the supply chain.”