Truckers take break from Oakland protest that impacted port


(NewsNation) — Truckers in Oakland are putting their protest over a California “gig worker” law on hold, but concerns about how the protest will impact a supply chain system already in shambles lingers over the protests.

The protest, in which truckers blocked a throughway in and out of the busy shipping port of Oakland, ended, temporarily, on Saturday after it began on Monday. Protests are set to resume on Monday.

Port officials warned earlier this week the protest would “further exacerbate” a clog of shipping containers already plaguing the crucial West coast port.

Nick Vyas, a practitioner of supply chain logistics at the University of Southern California, said the temporary weekend stoppage of the protest will not offer the port any relief or any chance to catch up on its backlog of shipping containers.

“It’s been about 29 months that we’ve been struggling with our supply chain, so think about the disruptions from the supply side, then demand side disruptions and geopolitical tensions and subsequent COVID spread in China,” Vyas said. “We have not taken a break to really reset the supply chain networks.”

The California law upsetting truckers would seek to limit the use of contract workers in the state, impacting an estimated 70,000 truck drivers. Already facing grueling conditions and an industry shortage of workers, truckers are firing back at a law they feel will only further worsen the problems they are facing in their profession.

“They do not want to lose their autonomy of being an independent contractor,” Vyas said. “As a contract employee, they can work for whoever, whenever. That freedom is very important.”

Truckers have already been fighting a labor shortage and compensation issues for the past 20 years, Vyas said, and California’s new law will exacerbate those problems.

“The last thing they want is some government law run by politicians who impose upon them how they should be classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor,” Vyas said. “It’s just going to convolute this problem to the max and we’re going to create further shortages of an issue that we’ve already faced for a long period of time.”

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