Truck drivers say Oakland Port slowdown impacting business

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Friday, February 6, 2015
Truckers say Oakland Port slowdown impacting business
Truck drivers, who haul shipping containers to and from the docks, are complaining about the slowdown at the Port of Oakland, as the union and shipping companies battle over terms of a new contract.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Negotiations have been underway for nine months to replace a contract that expired last July.

Longshoremen make roughly $26 to $36 an hour to load and unload cargo containers at 29 West Coast ports. Oakland is the third largest.

But it's the drivers, who haul the containers to and from the docks, who are complaining the loudest. The Pacific Maritime Association, representing the shippers, claims the union has engaged in a work slowdown.

It points at 14 to 16 ships anchored in the Bay and outside the Golden Gate Bridge that are waiting to berth at the docks. And drivers say they're losing money.

VIDEO: Oakland Port labor dispute affects small businesses

"It's very tough, very tough. Some of us have only had one move, sometimes we make two or three moves. That's all in a week," said independent driver Pradeep Singh.

They earn from $250 to $1,500 per container trucked, depending on distance.

"Right now, we're digging into our savings. We're buying things on credit. We're trying to make-do to service our customers in the supply chain to make sure we're not the problem," explained Bill Aboudi, AB Trucking President.

The longshoremen's union denies a slowdown. "Most of 2014 has left all West Coast ports suffering terrible congestion problems and that makes it difficult and very dangerous for workers to operate in this environment," said ILWU Communications Director Craig Merrilees.

The management group lays blame square on the union.

"Some might wonder how the union was able to take such unilateral action to cripple West Coast ports. The answer is short. Because they can," said James McKenna in a youtube video. He is the CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association, which represent shippers.

Contract talks continue. The union says they're close. Management is threatening to shut down the port.