Occupy protesters plan to shut down port

December 9, 2011 7:43:52 PM PST
The Occupy movement plans to march Monday and once again shut down the Port of Oakland in solidarity with workers who protesters say deserve better treatment, but not all of those workers are looking forward to losing money that day.

"Just the mere mention of something like this causes disruption in the supply chain because people begin to wonder 'is Oakland a place I can come to do business?'" said Isaac Kos-Read, a Port of Oakland spokesman.

Oakland's port spokesman can't help but notice the trucks lined up trying to squeeze in a last shipment before protesters try to bring business to a halt.

"The only time that working people in this country receive any kind of concession is when we do something that costs the bosses money," said one speaker at the press conference.

And that's why Occupy Oakland says they intend to shut down the Port of Oakland Monday as part of a coordinated port blockade in multiple cities.

"We're shutting down the whole West Coast and the Port of Houston because we want to let them know that the millions of dollars that they spent brutally repressing the Occupy Wall Street movement will not gain a profit for them," said Boots Riley, an Occupy Oakland member.

The occupiers claim they have broad support, even though many independent truck drivers stand to lose money during a shutdown.

When asked if he thought the port truckers are in support of the blockade action, Riley said, "I know that some of them that we talked to are."

"They don't speak for us," said Miguel Silva, a small trucking company owner. "We want to be able to work as usual."

Silva is one of the small trucking company owners still reeling from the last Port of Oakland shutdown in November.

"That took us two weeks to recover from it and the people that got hurt are the truckers because now we're sitting in big long lines and it didn't really hurt the big guys because they charge us penalties for not returning these containers to the port," said Bill Aboudi, a small trucking company owner.

Quan says a protest would hurt the wrong people. She said, "Why would we do this? The port is one of our major economic engines. It gives us the best possibility for creating new jobs."

And though her own family marched on the port last time, they'll lead by example. When Quan was asked if her husband and daughter going to be marching on Monday, she said, "Absolutely not."

Friday night, the longshoremen's union, which represents the workers who load and unload container ships, issued a statement saying it does not support a shutdown on Monday, even though some of its members individually have said they do.

Those workers have told us Monday's march is intended to stop work on both the morning and evening shifts at the port and that if police attempt to interfere with their free expression, they warn that they'll try to shut down work on the overnight shift as well.


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