Trucker Protest Brings Busy US Port to a Standstill

Independent truckers at Oakland are protesting California labor law
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2022 8:52 AM CDT
Trucker Protest Shuts Down One of America's Busiest Ports
Trucks line up to enter a Port of Oakland shipping terminal in this file photo from 2021.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Truckers protesting a state labor law have effectively shut down cargo operations at California's Port of Oakland, it was announced Wednesday. "The shutdown will further exacerbate the congestion of containers" and port officials are urging operations at shipping terminals to resume, a port statement said. The protest that began Monday involves hundreds of independent big-rig truckers that have blocked the movement of cargo in and out of terminals at the port, the AP reports. Oakland, one of the busiest container ports in the country, handles many different types of cargo and is an important distribution point for California's agricultural products.

The protest comes as toymakers and other industries enter their peak season for imports as retailers stockpile goods for the fall holidays and back-to-school items. The truckers are protesting Assembly Bill 5, a gig economy law passed in 2019 that made it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits such as workers compensation, overtime, and sick pay. A federal appeals court ruled last year that law applies to some 70,000 truck drivers who can be classified as employees of companies that hire them instead of independent contractors.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters called it a "massive victory" for exploited truckers. But the California Trucking Association, which sued over the law, had argued the law could make it harder for independent drivers who own their own trucks and operate on their own hours to make a living by forcing them to be classified as employees. The legal battle stalled enforcement of the law, but the US Supreme Court recently decided it wouldn't review the decision. Truckers are now asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to meet and discuss the issue. There's been no word on when the state might begin enforcing the law, which is still being contested in lower courts.

(More Port of Oakland stories.)

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