Truckers have blockaded the eighth-busiest container seaport, crippling imports and exports in protest of California’s anti-gig law.
According to Reuters, some 2,100 trucks are blocking the Port of Oakland terminal gates to protest the AB5 law. The blockade is choking the movement of beef, pork, green coffee, electronics, construction materials, dairy products, nuts, and more.
“Due to the strike, we have not been able to move cargoes from the port,” the director of one of the largest coffee importers in the United States told Reuters.
At the heart of the issue is California’s attempt to outlaw gig workers, similar to the measure Congress has tried to pass. The state passed a law making it nearly impossible for employers to classify workers as contractors. Lawmakers touted the bill as something that would protect workers and prevent employers from taking advantage of them, but as the trucker blockade demonstrates, not all gig workers are in favor of the law.
Many contract truckers would have to pay rental fees and other equipment costs if they were classified as employees, costs that are currently covered by the companies that contract them.
“AB5 would shut me down. I don’t have the resources to pay that kind of money,” said Carlos Flores, 42, adding that the new rental fees would cost him an additional $30,000 per month under AB5.
“I’ve invested too much into my business to go to a company and work for hourly wages,” he said.
The truckers are hoping Governor Newsom exempts them from the law, much like the exemption Uber and Lyft secured. Both companies were on the verge of having to reclassify their drivers as employees when they successfully managed to get Proposition 22 passed, allowing them to continue operating as they always have.
Should the truckers fail to secure an exemption, the future looks bleak for their prospects of remaining independent. Uber and Lyft lost in court before securing their own exemption, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear the truckers’ case.