Vessel ops resume at US Port of Oakland, but truck activity remains effectively shut down
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Vessels were being loaded and unloaded at all four marine terminals at the US Port of Oakland on Friday, but the Pacific Coast port remained effectively shut down to truck traffic as drivers continue to protest California’s labour law Assembly Bill 5 (AB5).
The truckers are protesting because the new law would require them to be paid employees instead of independent contractors, the business model that as many as 70,000 owner-operators in the state use.
Danny Wan, Port of Oakland executive director, said in an open letter to the truckers that he met with some of the protestors on 21 July to discuss the group’s concerns and objectives.
“We are committed to working with the independent trucking community,” Wan said in the letter, adding that he and other port representatives have been in constant communication with the governor’s office.
Wan said the port will establish a working group made up of representatives of both parties that will allow for the review of concerns regarding AB5, address trucker amenities and services at the port and discuss upcoming clean truck rules and implementations.
Local authorities set up free speech zones in an effort to open the port back up to truck traffic, but local media reports said crowds of drivers continued to block truck entrances.
“Owner/operators must comply with all vehicular and local regulations,” the letter said. “Any protester who does not comply with the law may be cited and penalized by the responsible law enforcement agencies.”
The open letter contained a message from the office of the governor.
“California is committed to supporting our truck drivers and ensuring our state’s truck drivers receive the protections and compensation they are entitled to,” the statement said. “This administration has employment tax incentives, small-business financing, and technical assistance resources to support this essential industry.”
“The state will continue to partner with truckers and the ports to ensure the continued movement of goods to California’s residents and businesses, which is critical to all of us,” it said.
The Port of Oakland is the eighth largest port in the US.
Along with containers, the port also handles imports and exports of liquid chemicals.
Container ships are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which are shipped in pellets.
Thumbnail shows containers. Image by Vincent Thian/AP/Shutterstock.