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Oakland port gets back to work after Occupy protest

December 13, 2011 |  1:28 pm

Demonstrators sit on top of a trailer truck outside the Port of Oakland during the Occupy movement' attempt to shut down West Coast ports
Operations at the Port of Oakland were returning to normal Tuesday after Occupy protesters derailed three consecutive work shifts in the most disruptive of 11 West Coast port actions designed to slow economic activity.

A port spokesman said terminals had called in workers for a morning shift and were eager to catch up on stalled work. Seven ships were berthed and ready.

Demonstrators Monday morning had caused more than three-fourths of longshore and warehouse workers to be sent home. A crowd of about 3,000 jubilant protesters then swarmed the port in the evening -- prompting terminal operators to decline to call workers in for the 7 p.m. shift. A small group stayed on and barred entry of the 3 a.m. shift before declaring victory and leaving the nation's fifth largest port to resume business.

What movement proponents described as success was met with anger and confusion by some port workers who lost wages, as well as by port and city officials. 

"Due to the protests during the last 24 hours, there is a heavy backlog of work to get through," Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said in a statement Tuesday morning, noting that port officials were working to repair the confidence of business partners.

"These disruptions cost workers shifts and wages, delaying and reducing paychecks," he said. "They also cost the port and City of Oakland vital resources. They hurt the many businesses that pay taxes and help us create jobs."

In a Monday night news conference, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan also showed mounting exasperation.

"A small group of people are going to hold this port, this city, this economy hostage. It’s not fair to the workers. It is not fair to this city," she said, noting that a day's pay for a port trucker -- independent contractors with steep overhead -- "could be the difference as to whether they can keep that truck or not."

“People have to think about who are they hurting," Quan said. They are saying, ‘We want to get the attention of the ruling class.’ Well, I think the ruling class is probably laughing... It’s really got to stop.”


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-- Lee Romney in San Francisco

Photo: Demonstrators sit on top of a trailer truck outside the Port of Oakland during the Occupy movement's attempts to shut down West Coast ports Monday. Credit: Stephen Lam / Reuters