The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has revealed that the Port of Oakland is braced ahead of a planned closure on 1 May, as part of a social justice protest.
The ILWU local union 10 has submitted a request to employers, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to temporarily halt labour at the port in public demonstration against police brutality in the United States.
Mike Zampa, commercial director at the Port of Oakland, explained: “The longshore agreement has a monthly stop work meeting, which means for one shift each month labour doesn’t report to the docks and conducts a union meeting. That meeting is normally on the second or evening shift, however our understanding is that labour has requested that the meeting is conducted in the day shift or first shift. The Port is awaiting confirmation of an agreement of this from the Pacific Maritime Association.”
“The Port of Oakland is notifying customers that this agreement is in the works as a precaution, it is up to shipping lines and terminals to make arrangements to address the suspension of operations of 1 May. The request is for the day shift, as a result, operations could resume for the second shift depending on how the request is handled by the PMA. It is in the port’s best interests for work to continue safely and without interruption at all times,” he added.
The labour force has played an integral part in social justice movements in the past including the Big Strike in 1934 as well as the anti-Apartheid movement in 1984.
A spokesperson for the ILWU told CM: “The decision was reached by the local 10 union and not by the ILWU as a whole. A request has been submitted to the employers at the specific maritime association and is expected to be mutually agreed by both parties.”
The protest is expected to cause minor disruption and affect congestion at the port, just two months after labour disputes left a backlog of ships at West Coast ports. It has been confirmed that the Port of Oakland has now cleared the backlog of ships and almost all cargo backlogs since February’s closures.
The protest is being supported by a number of community organisations including the Transport Workers Solidarity, Love Not Blood Campaign, the Anti-Police-Terror project and many more.