Port of Oakland wants court to stop truckers protesting over pay, CARB

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 11/13/2013

The Port of Oakland wants a restraining order against truckers who have organized protests there to stay in place.

Since August, the protesters have forced the port to close on two occasions while calling for higher pay and a $50 monthly payment to help keep up with state emissions requirements enforced by the California Air Resources Board. The port has added bathrooms after the protesters complained about a lack of adequate restrooms for truck drivers waiting in lines at the port.

According to court documents, the Port of Oakland originally filed a temporary restraining order Aug. 30 in Alameda County, CA Superior Court. The City of Oakland is listed as plaintiff, with truck drivers Cesar Parra, J.R. Coleman and “Does 1 through 2000” as defendants.

On Oct. 17, Alameda County granted the temporary restraining order. The Superior Court has scheduled a hearing to determine whether the order will be extended beyond next week.

The restraining order stops the truckers from “blocking or impeding ingress or egress into, or the passage of vehicles or person through port facilities … unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic in a marked or unmarked crosswalk … walking other than on left edge of roadway or illegally crossing street.”

The injunction doesn’t mean protestors won’t be able to exercise their First Amendment rights, Port Spokesman Roberto Bernardo told Land Line Magazine.

“Protestors are allowed to continue to exercise their free speech rights,” Bernardo said. “However, they are not allowed to illegally block port access. The temporary restraining order clarifies the law for all parties involved so that cargo operations at the port continue unimpeded.”

Parra told a reporter with Oakland North the court filing was a scare tactic.

“They’re trying to divide us, and actually they are afraid of us because we’re getting a lot of power,” Parra said, according to the Oakland North article.

The shutdowns have slowed shipments, worrying port authorities about what could happen to customers that ship agricultural cargo through Oakland. Besides farm produce and meat from shippers like Tyson Foods, the Oakland port says in a brochure that 90 percent of California wine exports go through its gates.

At the most recent protest on Oct. 21, about 100 owner-operators with ties to the Port of Oakland Truckers Association demonstrated throughout the port. They were later joined by demonstrators from the Occupy Movement.

“Disruptions to our seaport operations affect our business because shippers may consider diverting their traffic to other ports,” Bernardo said.

The port and truckers are slated to appear for a hearing about the injunction request Nov. 19.

The Port of Oakland’s board is scheduled to meet Thursday. On the board’s agenda is a closed session designated for “conference with labor negotiators.”

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