Port of Oakland strike ends early

November 20, 2012 8:43:12 PM PST
The strike at the Port of Oakland is over earlier than expected. Union workers picketing there and blocking trucks from delivering and picking up goods have agreed to resume contract negotiations. The port was expected to reopen tonight.

Things are not always as they appear and this is a good case in point. Most of the people that were out striking, don't actually work at the Port of Oakland. In fact, most of the people blocking the front gate, weren't even members of the union that is striking.

They chanted the union slogans, but it was hard to try to find a member of the striking service employees union.

"Well, I'm a retired letter carrier. I'm here as a supporter," said one man.

"Well, actually I'm an elected official," said another man.

"I don't know, there's some port workers in here. I don't know all of them," said one man.

Rick Miser is a member of SEIU Local 1021, but he doesn't work at the Port of Oakland, he works at the airport.

"Most of the port workers are at the airport far as I understand, from this union," said Miser.

Tuesday, there were picket lines at the Oakland International Airport, but they weren't there to block any business.

Marilyn Runo was heading to Orange County to visit her children. When asked if the strike was affecting her in any way, she said, "No." It's because of people like Runo that the airport maintenance and custodial workers did not want to shut down the airport.

"We're not trying to because we can't see anybody saying my mother didn't or my grandmother didn't get here for Thanksgiving, that is a black eye on us," said Gino Valente from SEIU Local 1021.

So rather than incur the wrath of the traveling public this Thanksgiving week, the SEIU Local 1021 shut down the port for a day, which left independent truckers waiting for work.

"This way is not good, were losing money you know," said Raj Singh, an independent truck owner. He says he's losing $400 per truck. He owns 10 trucks, to that's a $4,000 hit.

"We feel their pain, but this has been publicized for over two weeks," said Valente.

We asked the port's spokesperson, Isaac Kos-Read, if the tactic was working. "We've engaged all along with way with our union and continue to engage to this moment."

At 5 p.m. Tuesday the picketers walked away from the gates after they reached an agreement with the port to allow the second shift to come to work and start unloading and loading the half a dozen ships that had been waiting.

There is still no agreement yet on the contact between SEIU Local 1021 and the Port of Oakland, but they are talking.


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