Longshoremen and harbor truckers are preparing for possible disruptions on Monday when the Occupy movement intends to shut down West Coast ports on Dec. 12.
Despite calls from Occupy supporters to join them in protest, it appears that most longshoremen and harbor truck drivers want to work on Monday if conditions are safe.
Richard Coyle, president of Devine Intermodal, said the drivers he knows want to work in Oakland on Monday as long as law enforcement agencies can secure safe passage for the truckers. Also, truckers don’t want to face long delays in the harbor because of demonstrations, only to leave without a container.
“I think most drivers will plan for a slightly later start on Monday to wait and see what develops,” Coyle said.
Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was critically injured at an Occupy protest in Oakland, has urged longshoremen to join the protest, according to an Occupy movement Web site.
“You do the work—THEY, the global maritime bosses, profit at your expense. Your safety and your jobs are always at stake,” Scott said in an Occupy statement.
Leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union urged members again this week to not join the ranks of the movement. The Occupy movement’s push to shutdown the ports was done without going through the ILWU’s democratic voting process, union president Bob McEllrath wrote members in a letter.
McEllrath cited the references the Occupy movement has made to the ILWU’s efforts to prevent grain terminal operator EGT in Longview, Wash., from becoming the first non-ILWU grain terminal on the West Coast.
“While there can be no doubt that the ILWU shares the Occupy movement’s concerns about the future of the middle class and corporate abuses, we must be clear that our struggle against EGT is just that – our struggle.” McEllrath said. Third-party efforts that seek to co-opt an ILWU issue to advance their own agenda could jeopardize the ILWU’s efforts in Longview, he added.
The Teamsters union, meanwhile, has not taken an active role in planning any port demonstrations on Monday, but the union has stated that its attempt to organize owner-operators is consistent with the efforts of the Occupy movement to highlight the disparity of wages and working conditions in the U.S.
A flyer being distributed in Northern California states: “Here in Oakland and across the country, port truckers are being screwed.”
No group is claiming ownership of the flyer although it repeats many of the arguments that Teamsters have cited in their organizing efforts, such as the alleged misclassification of owner-operators as independent drivers, take-home pay for drivers that can be as low as $30 a day and rules against organizing drivers that are owner-operators.