Being an owner-operator in trucking means something. In many cases, it means more than just having more freedom in how you operate. There’s a sense of pride that exudes from owner-operators that you don’t often see in other lines of work.
I’m not an owner-operator. I’m not even a truck driver. But I know owner-operators, and I know truck drivers. I was raised by a truck driver. And when I read this open letter released late Thursday evening by the Port of Oakland regarding the ongoing protests over AB 5, it didn’t sit right with me.
In the letter, Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan says he met with representatives of the protesting truckers Thursday and discussed with them the impact the protest is having on jobs and operations at the port, as well as a “path forward to returning to full operations.” Wan went on to say he understands their frustrations over AB 5.
“WE HEAR YOU. We have heard you since day one of your protest action,” the letter reads. After four days of limited to no operations at the port’s terminals, I do believe a message is being heard. But it doesn’t seem to me they’re actually listening.
Wan goes on to say that he and other port representatives have been in contact with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and other state officials about the need for resources for trucking. A statement from the governor’s office included in the letter, however, makes it apparent there is no intention to help owner-operators affected by AB 5 to remain owner-operators with their current contracts intact.
“California is committed to supporting our truck drivers and ensuring our state’s truck drivers receive the protections and compensation they are entitled to,” the statement says. “… The state will continue to partner with truckers and the ports to ensure the continued movement of goods to California’s residents and businesses, which is critical to all of us.”
[Related: 'All the terminals are shut down': Owner-ops' AB 5 protests hit Port of Oakland]