Truck driver protests that started Monday have effectively shut down operations at the Port of Oakland’s shipping terminals, according to a statement from port officials released late Wednesday.
The truckers are protesting California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), a labor law that requires companies to reclassify many independent contractors as full employees. The law was passed in 2019, but its implementation was stalled by a lawsuit filed on behalf of truckers by the California Trucking Association (CTA). In June, the Supreme Court declined to review the case, allowing the law to take effect.
It’s unclear when the state will begin enforcing AB5, which is still being contested in lower courts.
Independent, owner-operator truck drivers say they fear the law will put them out of business by adding costs–in the form of additional fees and higher insurance, for example–or requiring them to take full-time employment rather than own their own business.
Port of Oakland officials warn that prolonged efforts to shut down port operations will exacerbate an existing backup of containers in Oakland while also threatening a loss of business to competing ports.
“We understand the frustration expressed by the protestors at California ports,” Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland, said in the press statement. “But, prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market share losses to competing ports.”