OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Port of Oakland is looking to head off another protest by Occupy Oakland aimed at shutting down the busy port.
Protesters plan to storm West Coast ports – including the Port of Oakland – next week, and that’s not sitting well with some longshoremen and union officials whose livelihoods depend on bustling activity at the ports. The planned protest appears to be modeled after an earlier Occupy day of action at West Coast ports in early November.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said his union is opposed to Tuesday’s planned demonstration. “I think what we have here is a relatively small group of people who think they know what’s best and instead of using the democratic process and structure, the unions, other groups have kind of announced this decision and imposed it on people,” said Merrilees.
The planned Dec. 12 protest is expected to affect ports in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma. Occupy members suggest Tuesday’s action is supposed to be an economic blockade that disrupts the 1%.
KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:
“There were lots of workers who were locked in and prevented from going home to their families,” said Merrilees, pointing out that demonstrators didn’t work in concert with the union members last month, either. “There were truck drivers, in particular, who put in a very long day. Most of them work over 12 hours, make very little money, and some of them were trapped in the port.”
Merrilees said far too many people, many of them working class employees, lost wages and shifts during the Nov. 2 port shutdown.
“It doesn’t seem in line with the goals of the Occupy movement, which is trying to achieve more justice for the whole society instead of benefiting just a few.”
Officials with the Port of Oakland went so far as to take out a full page ad in some Bay Area newspapers over the weekend appealing for protesters to reconsider Tuesday’s planned action.
“This action, closing down the port,” summed up Merrilees, “is not something that the unions are supporting. They’re not involved with it and it’s something that a small group of people have apparently decided to do because they know what’s best for other people and that’s a matter of concern.”
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