The Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland

Photo: Port of Oakland File Photo

Trucker protests at the Port of Oakland went into a fourth day Thursday, with some saying they wouldn’t stop until the state government does something about AB5, a new law that severely restricts the use of independent contractors.

Three marine terminals at the port were operating only partially Thursday, and the largest terminal was closed, according to published reports.

The shutdown will further exacerbate the congestion of containers dwelling at the Oakland Seaport, said port officials in a statement issued July 20.

“We understand the frustration expressed by the protestors at California ports,” said Danny Wan, executive director at the port. “But, prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market share losses to competing ports.”

“Truckers are vital to keeping goods moving,” said Wan, “We trust that implementation of AB5 can be accomplished in a way that accommodates the needs of this vital part of the supply chain.”

Truckers initially planned a three-day protest in Oakland, but extended it to a week or longer.

"The cargo won't flow 'til AB5 goes" is the rallying cry for many of the protesters, who want to see action in Sacramento (the state capital.)

According to Reuters, on Thursday the governor's office said: "No one should be caught by surprise by the law's requirements. The industry should focus on supporting this transition."

Sen. Brian Dahle, a candidate for governor who opposed AB5 when it was in the state legislature, visited with the truckers on Wednesday and on social media said, “California's AB 5 law has created a legal nightmare, and many truckers and businesses are on the brink of going out of business. This horrible law puts our supply chain in even greater jeopardy and hurts families and workers.”

Why Independent Truckers Are Protesting AB5

Owner-operator truck drivers, who make up 90% of the Bay Area port's operation, are protesting Assembly Bill 5, known as AB5, which is expected to virtually eliminate the use of owner-operators in trucking in the state. The protests follow actions last week at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

AB5 was passed and signed into law in 2019. Provisions in the bill will prevent independent owner-operator truck drivers from contracting with other trucking companies for services, essentially leaving trucking companies no choice but to use only employee drivers. An injunction in place since 2020 has prevented the law from being enforced while a lawsuit on the bill made its way through the judicial system. On June 30, however, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition from the California Trucking Association to hear the case, paving the way for full enforcement of the law.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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