Port of Oakland operations snarled as truckers protest

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Truckers protesting a new California law that toughens the definition of nonemployee drivers shut down some operations at the Port of Oakland on Tuesday, adding new disruptions to already fragile US supply chains.

Ed DeNike, president of SSA Containers, which handles about 70% of the cargo entering and leaving the Port of Oakland, said truckers blocked truck gates into and out of the company’s container terminal.

DeNike said container ships couldn’t be loaded or unloaded because dockworkers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to cross the picket line. “The thing that hurts the most is we are full,” DeNike said.

The private firms that run cargo-handling facilities at the port say the protests began Monday and sharply cut back operations. By Tuesday, as the number of protesters swelled, the ability to move boxes was almost at a standstill.

Andrea Connolly, a spokeswoman for cargo-handler TraPac LLC, said protesters on Tuesday barred short-haul truckers from entering the facility and only allowed long-haul drivers at a rate of three trucks per half-hour. Connolly said TraPac’s operations were reduced Tuesday by 95%.

The truckers are protesting a new California law, known as AB5, that sets restrictions on the use of outside contractors rather than company employees across a range of businesses. Independent owner-operators make up a large share of the trucking sector, particularly in port operations ferrying containers between docks and distribution centers.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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