Protest brings Port of Oakland to a near-standstill.

Hundreds of truckers have effectively shut down California’s Port of Oakland after a week of protests, which could throw an improving supply chain into reverse.

The truckers are planning to keep cutting off access to the third-busiest port on the West Coast until Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom agrees to sit down and hear their qualms with AB5, the controversial gig worker bill that’s expected to go into effect later this year.

AB5 refresher

AB5 forces large companies to classify more workers as employees instead of independent contractors, giving them access to benefits like health insurance.

You probably remember this bill drew a lot of criticism from companies like Uber and Lyft, which publicly fought against it and lobbied for an exemption.

But there were other industries besides the gig apps that were angry about AB5. California’s trucking sector filed a lawsuit to also be exempt from reclassifying workers. However, when the Supreme Court rejected to review the case last month, California was allowed to move forward with AB5. So truckers are taking a more hands-on-the-steering-wheel approach to being heard.

  • What the truckers are saying: While the bill is meant to give more protections to workers, truck drivers who work as independent owners and operators in California are worried that AB5 would mean less flexibility, while forcing them to become full-time employees or face higher costs to remain independent. AB5 would affect roughly 70,000 truckers in the state who currently work independently.
  • But union organizations disagree: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which is hoping to unionize truck drivers in California, say trucking companies have misclassified drivers for years, and this law would increase wages and benefits.

Looking ahead…Newsom isn’t budging, urging truckers to get on board with AB5 and end their protest, which shippers say is already harming their business. The truckers, meanwhile, say they’re in this for the long haul. We’ll see who blinks first.—MM