Occupy’s planned port shutdown raises concerns among truckers

Dec. 9, 2011
A plan by Occupy movement members to shut down major West Coast ports on Monday has many truck drivers concerned about disruption and the potential for lost income

A plan by Occupy movement members to shut down major West Coast ports on Monday has many truck drivers concerned about disruption and the potential for lost income.

According to a report in the Huffington Post, the coordinated port shutdown includes members of Occupy L.A., Occupy San Diego, Occupy Portland, Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Seattle and Occupy Oakland. Other West Coast Occupies, including Occupy Anchorage and Vancouver, Canada, are planning to join the economic blockade, according to organizers. Some smaller cities plan to direct their supporters to those ports.

Occupy members said the demonstrations are intended to show support for union battles at ports and to highlight the struggle of port truckers to earn a living.

“We’re shutting down these ports because of the union busting and attacks on the working class by the 1%: the firing of port truckers organizing at SSA terminals in L.A.; the attempt to rupture ILWU union jurisdiction in Longview, WA by EGT,” according to an Occupy press release explaining the action.

“EGT includes Bunge LTD, a company which reported $2.5 billion in profit last year and has economically devastated poor people in Argentina and Brazil. SSA is responsible for inhumane working conditions and gross exploitation of port truckers and is owned by Goldman Sachs. EGT and Goldman Sachs is Wall Street on the Waterfront,” said Barucha Peller of the West Coast Port Blockade Assembly of Occupy Oakland.

The mobilization of over 60,000 people that shut down the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2 is being used by organizers as the model for the West Coast efforts this Monday.

However, some independent truckers at the Port of Oakland told the Huffington Post they were dismayed by the plan.

“It’s going to have a snowball negative effect. I depend on the port to feed my family. Why should I have to be put in a predicament because these people lack the skills to get a job?” said Vladimir Torres, an independent trucker who is based out of Long Beach, CA, and comes to the port of Oakland on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Torres is an owner-operator who said he would be dually affected because he works at two West Coast ports.

Josh Thomas, a spokesman for the Port of Portland, told the Columbian that 88% of the exporters who call the port home are small and medium-size businesses. “We see this as hurting working people,” Thomas said of the Occupy movement’s port initiative.

“We consider it no laughing matter when there’s a large group of people threatening to either block or enter the terminal,” Thomas said, “and we’d have to work closely with local law enforcement agencies and our own marine security officers and potentially (the U.S) Coast Guard, if it came to that.”

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