Port Protests Scheduled Nationwide
February 17, 2000
Hundreds of independent truckers are expected to rally today at each of eight ports in protest of skyrocketing fuel prices, low pay and unsafe equipment.
The Teamsters-organized rallies are scheduled for ports in New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles-Long Beach, the nation's two biggest ports, as well as Charleston, Seattle, Savannah, Jacksonville, Baltimore and Boston.
Thousands of truckers are expected to protest in LA, but the port's not concerned. "No one is really worked up over this," Suzanne Nault, a spokeswoman for the Steamship Assn. of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times. "Friday is a slow day in the harbor, and we don't think there will be that big of a turnout for the demonstration."
In New York/New Jersey, port truckers will rally at Liberty State Park off the New Jersey Turnpike. Following the rally, the truckers will convoy over the George Washington Bridge and through the Manhattan Port Authority headquarters at the World Trade Center.
These are the latest in a series of Teamster-sponsored rallies, with the first on Jan. 31 and two others this week.
The Teamsters are not behind a wildcat strike at the ports of Miami and Port Everglades in Florida. The strike, which is nearing the end of its second week, has paralyzed the ports. According to published report, striking independents have blocked entrances to the Port of Miami and have threatened drivers who are not striking.
A negotiating session at the mayor's office Wednesday failed to resolve the situation. The shipping companies and trucking firms agreed to a 10% fuel surcharge, according to the Miami Herald, but truckers say it's not enough when you consider that fuel costs have risen 50% in the past year. Another complaint of the truckers is that the companies force them to buy their insurance through them, and the premiums have risen sharply.
Yesterday, the Florida Independent Truckers Assn., which represents trucking companies, said that a proposal has been made to the truckers, and the ball is now in their court.
Settlement of the strike has been difficult because there is no clearly defined leadership among the truckers. A loosely organized entity called Support Trucking Group has been formed, but it does not have the legal authority to speak for all the striking truckers.