Port of Oakland reopens after AB5 trucker protests – Drivers
The Port of Oakland resumed operations this week, after five days of protests against California’s AB5 law that hampered and even forced the closure of port operations.
On Monday, July 25, truckers largely returned to work after authorities warned that continuing to block gates could lead to arrests. Instead, protesters were moved to “free speech zones” away from the terminal gates.
Independent Truckers were trying to draw the attention of lawmakers and the governor to the impact of Assembly Bill 5, which passed in 2019 but was not enforced against the trucking industry while an appeal from the California Trucking Association has made its way to court.
The law makes it nearly impossible for motor carriers to use the traditional independent owner-operator driver model in California.
In late June, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, meaning the injunction that had been put in place to prevent state enforcement would be lifted. According to the California Trucking Association, the law would affect about 70,000 truckers who own and drive their own trucks.
AB5 protests also took place at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the previous week, but without as much disruption at the ports.
The protests ended with no concessions from key lawmakers or Governor Newsom, according to published reports. The Port of Oakland has reportedly promised to act as a liaison between the independent trucking community and Sacramento and plans to create a “task force” of truckers and port officials to review concerns about the implementation of the ‘AB 5.
Port of Oakland: “The truckers have been heard”
In a press release, the Port of Oakland said it appreciated independent truckers’ use of designated free-speech zones and thanked local law enforcement.
“Truckers have been heard and we now urge them to take their grievances to lawmakers, not the Port of Oakland,” Port Executive Director Danny Wan said in a statement. Port officials said the City of Oakland, regional and state law enforcement agencies continue to monitor and implement measures to keep traffic flowing.
Protests over the past week have impeded the rapid flow of international trade, port officials say, including medical supplies, agricultural products, auto and technology parts, livestock and manufacturing parts.
Cargo handlers told the Wall Street Journal it could take weeks to process the backlog of intermodal containers that have piled up during the blockade.
In neighboring Nevada, Paul Enos, CEO of the state trucking association, told Fox 5 from Las Vegas that AB5 would lead to the abandonment of truckers in an industry already short of 80,000 drivers. He said the law would also affect independent operators from other states, such as Nevada, who travel to California.
The trucking industry is expected to challenge the law again in a California district court, but until then it’s unclear how AB5 will be enforced.