Trucker protests stalled cargo shipments at California’s 3rd seaport According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Independent truck drivers gather to delay the entry and exit of trucks at a container terminal in the Port of Oakland, during a protest against California’s law known as AB5, in Oakland, California, on July 18, 2022. REUTERS / Carlos Barria / File Photo

By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Tests Wednesday against California’s new labor law made it difficult for independent shipping companies to run ground operations at the state’s third-busiest seaport, leading to virtual pause, rupturing a key lifeline in the fragile US supply chain.

SSA Marine, the largest terminal operator at the Port of Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay Area, has closed operations due to protests from independent carriers, said port spokesman Robert Bernardo.

Mr. Bernardo said other shipping terminals are effectively shutting down trucks, adding that some labor on board is underway.

SSA and Everport port managers have sent workers at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) pier home for safety reasons, a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

TraPac on its website says its station will be closed for the first shift because of protests blocking the entrance. Terminal representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The AB5 law, also known as the “labor contract” law, sets stricter standards for classifying workers as independent contractors.

Legal challenges in the freight industry delayed enactment of the law for more than two years, but the US Supreme Court declined to review the case on June 30, clearing the way for it to continue.

Advocates, including The Research Group and ILWU, say that AB5 aims to curb labor abuse and push companies to hire drivers as employees – a move that will open the door for them to participate. join unions and bargain collectively with employers.

Independent truckers say they enjoy the freedom of contract work and worry that the law will burden them with hefty costs that will wipe out their income.

About 5,000 owners ship everything from almonds and wine to electronics at the Port of Oakland. Their AB5 rallies started on Monday and are getting bigger and more disruptive by the day.

Port transportation officers picked up passengers at two of the nation’s top seaports, in Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California, last week, with traffic congested and terminal entrances choking.

The three California ports combined handle about half of the nation’s total containerized cargo volume. The carrier protests come as ILWU, which represents terminals operating at those and other ports on the US West Coast, is negotiating contracts with terminal operators that hire them.

Trucking company owner Bill Aboudi backs mostly immigrant drivers who are protesting – even though they have shut down rigs operated by his employees, resulting in business damage up to $8,000 per day.

“It’s important. We have to deal with it,” Aboudi said.

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