The Port of Oakland was the only port along the West Coast to report significant disruptions Monday morning after Occupy movement protesters tried to shut down marine terminals along the entire coast.
The Occupy movements at most West Coast port cities announced earlier this month that they would hold demonstrations and would attempt to shut down the ports. The disruptions varied in effectiveness, however, because of the unique geography of each port.
About 1,000 protestors gathered at one entrance of the Port of Oakland, blocking traffic, triggering a long backup of trucks and effectively stopping cargo from moving to and from several terminals.
The Port of Oakland said in a statement at mid-day the TRAPAC, TTI and SSA/OICT terminals had decided to close for the day. Oakland said the gate at Ports America was closed but they would move cargo if police cleared protesters from the entrance. The APL and Matson terminals were fully operational, the port said.
The port is shaped like a horseshoe, so one of the two entrances to the harbor was effectively shut off, said Jim McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, the employer’s group that represents terminal operators and shipping lines. McKenna said the strategy of the demonstrators appeared to be to congregate in front of one terminal at a time.
As a result, PMA instructed its member terminals to order longshore labor Monday morning based on whether or not the terminal could provide access for longshoremen. Also, some terminals would order labor based on specific functions, such as to work a vessel, but possibly not for other terminal activities, McKenna said.
There are 14 container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor, but demonstrators focused only on the Pacific Container Terminal operated by SSA Marine, a port spokesman said. The Occupy movement has said would target SSA Marine facilities on the West Coast because the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs is an investor in the company.
Several hundred protestors gathered at the south gate of PCT, but longshoremen entered the facility through the north gate, said port spokesman Art Wong. He said there were no apparent protests at other Long Beach terminals.
There were no protests Monday morning in the entire Port of Los Angeles, said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield. Port police and other low enforcement agencies were stationed around the port in case something happened.
Occupy demonstrators were active at Portland’s only container terminal, which is Terminal 6, a port spokesman said Monday morning. Protesters also were active at Port Metro Vancouver but officials say operations there were running.
Demonstrations were also planned Monday afternoon at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, spokesmen at each of the ports said. Cargo-handling operations were proceeding normally Monday morning at both ports. Seattle’s demonstrators planned activities at the port at 1 p.m and 3 p.m., local time. The noon demonstration in Tacoma was described by the Occupy protestors as an “informational” picket.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union was not supporting calls by the Occupy movement to shut down West Coast ports. ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said longshoremen Monday morning were reporting for work at all locations where there were no safety issues.
The area arbitrator chosen jointly by the ILWU and PMA was called to the site of the demonstrations in Oakland and was expected to issue a ruling Monday morning, Merrilees said.
Occupy demonstrators in Portland disrupted operations at Terminal 6, the port’s container terminal, and Terminal 5, site of a bulk grain facility. Port spokesman Josh Thomas said there was no container vessel at Terminal 6 on Monday, but a grain vessel at Terminal 5 could not be worked. Occupy demonstrators said they would return to the Port of Portland for the evening shift.
The Occupy demonstrations in Southern California ended peacefully in late morning Monday as protestors left the Pacific Container Terminal site and went home. Police closed the roadway to trucks for awhile in front of the PCT and ITS terminals so the demonstrators could exit the area, said port spokesman Art Wong.
The PCT facility remained open during the demonstrations because only one of the facility’s two entrances was blocked. All other terminals in Long Beach and all of the terminals in Los Angeles worked without incident on Monday, port spokesmen said.
The Occupy movement demonstrations on the West Coast shifted to the north on Monday afternoon. About 30 demonstrators held an informational picket at the main roadway leading to the Port of Tacoma, but they did not disrupt traffic or cargo handling, said port spokesman Rod Koon.
Seattle police estimated the crowd of demonstrators that marched from the downtown area to the port Monday afternoon totaled about 400 to 500. The marine terminals remained open, said Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw.