Occupy Oakland 12/12 Port Shutdown raises question: How to unite with and support truckers’ struggle?

“Oakland Port Protests Highlight Truckers’ Plight”
by Sunita Sohrabhji
India-West, Dec 16, 2011
Thousands of “Occupy” protestors took to the streets Dec. 12 near the Oakland, Calif., ports to highlight the brutish working conditions of the nation’s truck drivers, who work as many as 70 hours a week for low pay and no benefits.
Similar protests were held the same day and the following morning at ports throughout the West Coast, including Long Beach and San Diego in California; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle and Tacoma in Washington. The movement is called “Occupy Wall Street on the Waterfront.”
Indian Americans — predominantly Punjab natives — make up approximately one-third of truck owners and drivers in California. There are more than 32,000 Indian American truck drivers nationwide, according to various reports.
The West Coast port protests were primarily directed at large corporations such as Goldman Sachs who own trucking companies, but also indirectly targeted Indian American trucking company owners.
Valerie Lapin, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, told India-West, “Truck drivers are definitely part of the 99 percent. They are such a clear example of those who are being exploited.”
Trucking companies are skirting their responsibilities by misidentifying truck drivers as independent owner operators, asserted Lapin, adding that this allows companies to get away with not offering health benefits to their employees, along with varied rates of pay, which can sometimes be as little as $30 per day.
Trucking company owners also pay no social security taxes for their workers, who are not protected by health and safety laws though they work in dangerous jobs. Continue reading

December 12: Occupy Protesters Target Ports – a Special Report

Protests targeting West Coast ports on Monday stopped work shifts and shipments for hours with major disruptions at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland.

Hundreds of people gathered at ports in the early morning hours from San Diego all the way up to Vancouver, Canada. Protesters targeted in particular, terminals owned by a company named SSA Marine because it is co-owned by the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, and grain exporter EGT for anti-union activity.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, thousands of whose workers are employed by SSA Marine, did not sanction the action but respected the Occupiers’ picket lines. While some workers complained to press about a day’s worth of lost wages, an open letter by four port truckers decrying their working conditions, and in support of the spirit of the port shutdown, has received broad attention. In it, they say “we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12.”

Protestors significantly disrupted business at the Longview, Washington port, where companies sent workers home citing health and safety concerns. In Seattle, Washington hundreds of protestors shut down at least one port terminal and police turned out with flash bang percussion grenades to disperse the demonstrators. Here in Southern California, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles saw hundreds of Occupy activists gather near Harry Bridges park and block shift changes for several hours. Police then pushed protesters out of the area, and arrested a small number of people. The longest port occupation appears to be Oakland’s, where protestors disrupted traffic into the port until 4am December 13.

Uprising correspondent Lydia Breen was at the Occupy the Ports action at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles yesterday and filed this special report.

Lydia Breen is with The Trailer Trash Project online at http://www.trailertrashproject.com.

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Occupy Oakland Calls for TOTAL WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN ON 12/12

Occupy Oakland Calls for TOTAL WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN ON 12/12 | OccupyWallSt.org:

In response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation:

Occupy Oakland calls for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12th. The 1% has disrupted the lives of longshoremen and port truckers and the workers who create their wealth, just as coordinated nationwide police attacks have turned our cities into battlegrounds in an effort to disrupt our Occupy movement.

We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port. Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT. Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.

Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT. The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast. Continue reading