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Truckers shut down Port of Oakland in protest of Gavin Newsom's labor law as California's supply chain goes from bad to worse

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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Independent truckers shut down the Port of Oakland as a protest against a labor law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Since Monday, California truckers have been blocking access to the Port of Oakland with a protest against Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). The truck drivers successfully stopped operations at the Oakland port from Wednesday through Friday.

The Port of Oakland said in a Wednesday statement, "Trucker protests that started Monday over the implementation of AB5 have effectively shut down operations at shipping terminals at the Port of Oakland. The shutdown will further exacerbate the congestion of containers dwelling at the Oakland Seaport as port officials urge terminal operations to resume."

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 president Farless Dailey told CNBC, "Every day, ILWU workers are getting up at 5 am to drive to the dispatch hall and fill jobs at the port. But when they get to the terminals, the trucker protests are creating conditions which make it unsafe for workers to pass through the gates and do our jobs."

The protest has caused containers to back up, exacerbating the ongoing supply chain issues in California.

“Currently, import containers are sitting at the Port of Oakland for more than two weeks,” said Josh Brazil – vice president of supply chain insights at Project44. "Due to a lack of intermodal capacity, dwell times exceeded 10 days even before the AB5 protest. Those containers will now spend even more time in port due to the restrictions against independent truckers."

The Port of Oakland offered the truckers a "Free Speech Zone" where truckers could "publicly express their opinions" without disrupting shipping operations.

A spokesperson for Newsom's office issued a statement to CalMatters on the trucking situation, "California is committed to … ensuring our state’s truck drivers receive the protections and compensation they are entitled to. This administration has employment tax incentives, small business financing, and technical assistance resources to support this essential industry. The state will continue to partner with truckers and the ports to ensure the continued movement of goods to California’s residents and businesses, which is critical to all of us."

The protest has caused some shipping vessels to skip the Port of Oakland entirely. The extra vessels are clogging other California ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Truckers are rebelling against California Assembly Bill 5 – which was signed into law by Newsom in September 2019.

AB5 called for "a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business."

Certain professions were exempt from AB5 – including insurance agents, health care professionals, investment advisers, realtors, barbers, and fishermen. In November 2020, app-based delivery drivers and rideshare drivers were made exempt from AB5. However, truckers were not exempt from AB5.

In January 2020, the trucking industry secured an injunction that prevented AB5 from including independent truckers.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of the California truckers battling against AB5. The labor law would force independent contractors to be employees of trucking companies in order to work in California. As TheBlaze previously reported, AB5 affects 70,000 owner-operated truckers in California.

AB Trucking owner Bill Aboudi told CNBC, "It seems the governor is not concerned about taking American workers’ rights away. These are independent, small businesses that choose to operate their own trucks, and now that right is taken away from them."

A Los Angeles-based trucker told the Daily Caller, "This kills the liberty of being a trucker and kills the American Dream."

Republican California gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Brian Dahle told the Daily Caller, "They've exempted all kinds of people from AB 5, but not truckers. We have a supply chain issue, we should let them go to work like everyone else. These are small business owners. Gavin Newsom is trying to force everybody to be employees and in unions even when they don’t want to."

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