2013 US Trucking Industry News – Truckers Protest at Oakland Port

The Port of Oakland wants to file a restraining order against truckers who have organized protests to stay in place there. These truck drivers have identified themselves as the Port of Oakland Truck Drivers Association.

The port has already been forced to close on two occasions due to these protesters who have called for a higher pay. They also requested a $50 monthly salary to help keep up with state emissions requirements that were enforced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The port has already added bathrooms after the protesters complained about the lack of good restrooms for truck drivers that are waiting in line at the port. Since they are independent contractors, the non-union truckers have banded together to call for better pay and working conditions. They have cited quadrupling diesel prices, increased maintenance costs, as reasons. They have also protested that the price that they were paid per cargo load has not been raised in more than a decade.

According to some court documents, the port of Oakland has originally filed a temporary restraining order on August 30 2013 in the Alameda County Superior Court. Listed in the plaintiff is the city of Oakland, with truck drivers Cesar Parra and JR Coleman as defendants.

The temporary restraining order was granted on October 17 2013. The Superior Court has also scheduled a hearing that determines whether the order will be extended beyond next week.

The restraining order prevents the truckers from blocking the passage of vehicles or people through port facilities. This also included unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic in both a marked or unmarked crosswalk, and walking other than on the left edge of the roadway or illegally crossing the street.”

This injunction does not mean that these protesters won’t be able to exercise their First Amendment rights. They are still set to continue, as well as to exercise their free speech rights. But they were not allowed to illegally block port access. The temporary restraining order clarifies the law for all the parties that were involved, so the cargo operations at the port can continue.

There were even reports that the court was filing a scare tactic. The shutdowns have slowed shipments. This worried port authorities about what would happen to customers that ship agricultural cargo through Oakland. Aside from farm produce and meat from shippers such as Tyson Foods, the Oakland port has said in a brochure that around 90% of California’s exported wine goes through their gates.

Over 100 operators who have ties to the Port of Oakland Truckers Association have demonstrated throughout the port during the most recent protest on October 21. Demonstrators from the Occupy Movement later joined them. Disruptions to these seaport operations can affect their business since shippers may consider diverting their traffic to other ports.

The truckers and the port are all slated to appear for another hearing about the injunction on November 19 2013. The Port of Oakland board is also scheduled to meet on November 21, 2013. A closed session is designated for a conference with labor negotiators.

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