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5/10/2004
SPECIAL REPORT: Situation still iffy at Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland May 7 secured a temporary restraining order barring independent truckers from maritime property, the Contra Costa Times reported.

"They've been interfering with sea port commerce; this isn't acceptable," said port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur. "It's damaging to the economic viability of the region and to the reputation of the Port of Oakland."

The Alameda County Superior Court injunction prohibits trespassing on port property, causing a public nuisance, placing or throwing objects on the roadways leading to terminals, and threatening, shouting or touching anyone coming into the terminal.

About 100 protesters showed up May 7 even though representatives of the drivers tentatively agreed with the trucking companies to return to work for 30 days, Sandifur said.

Irvinder Dhanda, a representative for the truckers since they began protesting April 30, said that while he and other representatives were happy with the offers, other drivers decided to hold out for more.

In flyers circulated at the port, drivers have called for a 30 percent increase in freight rates, to cover growing maintenance, Department of Motor Vehicles registration and insurance costs, and a 10 percent increase in surcharges to compensate for increasing diesel rates. They have also pushed for improvements in working conditions and quicker cargo loading and unloading.

AB Trucking President Bill Aboudi, who was also present at the Thursday meeting, confirmed that a majority of trucking companies said they have reached agreements with their independent drivers. Each company negotiated with its drivers separately, he said, because antitrust rules prevent them from setting rates in coordination with their competitors.

Aboudi wouldn't disclose specifics of his new contractor arrangements but said rate increases were in the range of 5 percent to 15 percent.

"If we do 30 percent, we'll go out of business," he said.

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