For the third time since August, independent truckers at the Port of Oakland are staging a work stoppage to protest working conditions and the cost of retrofitting their vehicles to meet state air regulations.
Picketing began before dawn, and protesters succeeded in slowing down truck and car traffic around the port. Video from CBS5 (below) shows several dozen picketing truckers and supporters facing off with Oakland police officers assigned to keep the roads around the port clear. The Bay Area News Group reports that police cited half a dozen people for blocking a public roadway.
The Port of Oakland Truckers Association issued a list of demands to officials from the port, city and state earlier this month. Those demands, voiced during a meeting with Mayor Jean Quan and Port Director Chris Lytle, include an extension on a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline for truckers to acquire newer, cleaner engines to cut down on the volume of particulates the diesels spew into the air. The association is also asking for an emissions fee of $50 per load for all Port of Oakland truck drivers to help offset the costs of updating vehicles to comply new diesel emissions standards that take effect on Jan. 1.
Officials from the California Air Resources Board say truckers have had years to comply with the law and that there's no money left to help pay for retrofitting older trucks.
The port truckers group staged protests in August and October that partially shut down Oakland's cargo operations. In addition to the pollution regulations, they also want the port to agree to pay for time they spend waiting to load or unload cargo. They're also seeking improvements in working conditions, such as better access to restrooms during waits that can last as long as six hours.