Contrariwise, a view of a bird’s eye:
May the New Year bring with it new perspectives.
I’m trying to educate myself about the port action, how corporations and unions understand the port of Oakland, how it pertains to the truckers and the city as well as the Occupy movement. I’ll be updating this all day. In the meantime:
Section 717 (1). All Port facilities, airport facilities and terminal facilities of any kind or character are hereby consolidated and shall be operated as a single project by the Board in the interest of transportation by land, by sea and by air, it being hereby found and determined that transportation facilities of all classes implement and augment each other to such an extent that the same must in the public interest be operated singly and under one central supervision and control. Wherever in this Charter the terms “port”, “project”, or “facilities” are used, the same shall include all facilities under the jurisdiction of the Board, irrespective of whether the same shall be port or airport facilities or other real or personal property or equipment of the Port and related improvements, structures or facilities.
Section 726. Without denial or disparagement of other powers now held by or that may hereafter be given to the City of Oakland or its legislative bodies under or by the Constitution or the laws of the State of California, the City Council and Board of Port Commissioners are hereby authorized and empowered to grant and convey all or any portion of or interest in the tidelands and submerged lands located in the Middle Harbor area of the City, lying between the Estuary of San Antonio and Seventh Street, and westward of Bay Street extended southerly, to the United States of America for public and governmental (including military or naval) purposes, subject to such terms, conditions, and reservations, if any, as the Council and Board shall deem proper.
In a series of protests since July, ILWU members and supporters sat down on train tracks and occupied the new terminal, resulting in 100 arrests. As picketing continued, no trains had attempted to bring in grain shipments since July. But last week a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order at the request of the National Labor Relations Board, which said ILWU pickets had harassed EGT workers.
Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?
This time the Occupiers are doing it to highlight the nasty anti-union tactics of a major international food and grain conglomerate, Export Grain Terminal (EGT), whose majority owner, Bunge Ltd. is a multi-national company busting unions from Texas to Bulgaria to Argentina and is also deeply involved with corporate takeover of food systems, displacing local agriculture with soybean monoculture. EGT is trying to break the labor standards and jurisdiction of the ILWU by bringing in scabs to load their grain ships at the Port of Longview.
In Southern California, at the huge port complex of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the Occupy blockades are adding another political target. They will focus on the terminal of one of the worst offenders of the 1% on the Coast—Stevedoring Services of America (SSA)—to highlight the plight of the port truckers. These “independent contractors,” mostly immigrant workers who haul the shipped containers to warehouses and other points of destination, have been trying to organize into the Teamsters for over a decade so they could bargain and raise their pathetic pay.
Working on a piece on Dec. 12 for the Occupy Gazette. In the meantime, here are a lot of photos of the morning at the port.
This is a map of the route protesters took to the Port of Oakland:
They started around 5:30 a.m. at the red star on this map (close to the West Oakland BART station) and marched all the way (roughly) to the blue star on the far left. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park connected to the two sets of berths that the protesters took up: 30-32 and 55-57.
A group of bikers went on ahead earlier. The pedestrians marched behind them, with the police bringing up the rear. Here’s what that looked like, from the point of view of the marchers, in the eerie early morning:
The crowd split in two–some went to berths 55-57, others went to 30-32. The futuristic looking white building is behind the gates at berths 30-32. Slowly the sun rises, the truckers line up, the police line up, and various events happen which I will elaborate on when time permits. In the meantime, here are some images, which I hope do something to capture the wild solitary weirdness of the Port of Oakland, even when it’s “occupied.”