Truckers Are Protesting in California: Here’s Why

by Emily Morgan

California truckers are protesting a labor law known as Assembly Bill 5 that sets stricter standards for classifying workers as independent contractors. As a result, for the third day in a row, the truckers shut down one of the busiest seaports in the country.

On Wednesday, regular operations came to a screeching halt at the Port of Oakland. Hundreds of independent truckers protested gates and blocked other big-rig drivers from bringing cargo in and out of the port.

The protesters argue that the gig economy law, which could soon go into effect, will put hefty costs on the truckers and cut their pay.

On Monday, picketing began and has continued to grow. In addition, the protests have also put a strain on supply-chain issues that have already led to cargo ship traffic jams at ports and have kept goods on the docks.

And it doesn’t look like the protesters are going home anytime soon. Organizers say they plan on protesting until California Governor Gavin Newsom agrees to meet with the angry truckers.

The protests followed actions last week at the country’s top seaports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. The California ports handle about half of America’s container cargo volume.

On Wednesday, protestors halted traffic as they picketed in large crowds at the Port of Oakland, interrupting entrance gates and overall operations.

Later, as safety became a concern, SSA Marine and Everport managers sent International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) dock workers home for the day.

The protests also come as industries enter their high season for imports as business owners stockpile items for the fall holidays and items for students returning to school.

As a result of the picketers, productivity at the port has slowed down, and container wait times are skyrocketing.

Truckers could cause congestion at the country’s busiest seaports

Port officials worry that the shutdown will cause congestion. They’re now urging shipping terminals to resume operations.

“The supply chain already is in crisis. This is a huge disruption,” complained Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, while speaking with The Wall Street Journal.

As aforementioned, the demonstrations stem from Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which makes it harder for companies to categorize workers as independent contractors instead of employees, who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits such as worker’s compensation, overtime, and sick pay.

“It seems the governor is not concerned about taking American workers’ rights away,’ demonstrator Bill Aboudi, owner of AB Trucking, said. “So far there has been no contact with the governor’s office.”

“These are independent, small businesses that choose to operate their own trucks, and now that right is taken away from them. They do pay taxes. They do have insurance. It’s their choice to do that.”