Ports, cities brace for Latino protest on May Day

| 4/28/2006

The people who run the ports around the country are wondering how many Latino truck drivers will show up for work on Monday.

That’s the day that hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters plan to boycott work and school and avoid spending money to call attention to the contributions made to the United States’ economy by undocumented workers.

Reutersreports that many cities are expecting huge rallies. And while labor unions are generally urging their members to go to work on Monday, many of the Latino container truck drivers at U.S. ports are non-union.

A group that’s calling for pay raises and collective bargaining rights for the port truckers is considering urging a week-long shut down.

A spokesman for the Port of Long Beach says if there is a work stoppage – and it lasts a week or more – it would have a dramatic economic impact.

According to Reuters, organizers in Los Angeles have called on some 12,000 drivers to stop work or attend rallies. Although undocumented labor at the ports in L.A. is minimal, the vast majority of truck drivers serving the complex are Latino.

One Land Line reader who is familiar with the port situation in L.A. told Reuters the work stoppage isn’t an idle threat.

“There’s been a call by the community for a general strike. That means we’re shutting down,” Ernesto Nevarez, one of the organizers, told Reuters. “Everyone has a relative (who is Latino). It’s out of solidarity with our people.”

– By Reed Black, staff writer