Workers and Community Members Picket the Port of Oakland

Workers and community members at the gate of Terminal 59, Port of Oakland, leased by SSA (a subsidiary of Carrix, Inc.).

A coalition of port workers, including members of the unions SEIU 1021 and Unite HERE, and Oakland residents with the Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs, plus organizers with Occupy Oakland, picketed the Port of Oakland yesterday.

The picket line was “informational” only. Union leaders did not intend to ask other workers, including ILWU longshoremen to not cross the line, a move that would have disrupted a shift and brought operations to a halt. ILWU’s rank and file pride themselves on their solidarity with other unions and routinely do not cross picket lines. Instead, the workers and Oakland residents marching at the port, wanted to make a show of strength, demonstrating their ability to effectively shut a maritime terminal down if they feel the need to do so. They passed out information about their struggle against the Port’s management, and against the financial corporations they say profit from the Port’s current positions in labor negotiations.

SEIU 1021’s port chapter is currently negotiating (along with three other unions) for a new contract that would include a 5 percent cost of living increase. The port’s management has countered that they will give no such increase, and furthermore that they seek increased employee contributions into their pensions. Port management hope to free up more revenue for increased capital investments that will benefit marine terminal operators, shipping companies, and real estate investors.

The Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs enacting a skit that explains how the interest rate swap has harmed the city’s finances, one of several reasons why city services have been cut in recent years.

Also present at the informational picket were members of the Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs, a community group that is pressuring city leaders and the bank to terminate a costly interest rate swap that has cost Oakland upwards of $20 million due to the divergence of interest rates following the financial crisis in 2008.

Labor and the community have united around the port because both share an analysis of the major financial corporations that profit from the port’s debt, capital investments, and the trade that flows through the busy maritime and air terminals. Goldman Sachs was specifically singled out because the company owns a stake in the marine terminal operator SSA. SSA’s terminal at the port, Berths 57-59 were the site of the picket.

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