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Trucker Protests Block Port

Goods transporters are steeling themselves for ongoing disruption at California’s busy Port of Oakland, as trucker protests over a new state regulation continue, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s happening: “Truck drivers have stopped vehicles from entering Port of Oakland container terminals, effectively halting all but a trickle of business in a protest over a California law that would toughen restrictions on the use of independent drivers.”

  • Dockworkers who are part of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have refused to load and unload cargo from ships, adding to bottlenecks at the terminal, a main artery for U.S. agricultural imports.

The bigger picture: The protests are the latest in a series of interruptions at West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach. Those have receded, but bottlenecks are starting at East Coast points now, too.

  • A recent study commissioned by the NAM found that a 15-day stoppage at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would cost the U.S. economy half a billion dollars a day.

The point of contention: “Many trucking companies employ their own drivers. But in California they also rely on an estimated 70,000 independent owner-operators carrying loads between the state’s ports and distribution centers. The law makes it harder for trucking companies to classify the drivers that work regularly for them as independent contractors.”

  • Many truckers say the legislation will make independent-driver insurance and permitting prohibitively expensive, forcing them to become employees or leave the industry altogether.
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