Port of Oakland workers picket for a fair workplace and a strong contract
Throughout the pandemic, Port of Oakland workers have been pushed to the limit, and they’re fighting back again to win a contract and put a stop to unfair disciplines and chronic understaffing. You can help by signing their petition here.
Workers rallied with picket signs at the Port entrance on Wednesday, December 21 and Thursday, December 22, to call attention to their struggle. Across the Port, understaffing is working workers to the bone, requiring huge amounts of overtime. Meanwhile, management is ignoring the negotiated discipline processes and is imposing punitive and cruel suspensions, costing workers weeks and even months of pay, frequently over minor issues.
To top it all off, management representatives are dragging out contract negotiations with Port workers, who have been without a contract since June 30. They’re even insisting that workers give up their right to strike!
Port of Oakland chapter president Joey Friedman has been with the Port for over 14 years. He said, “The mismanagement we face has gotten worse every year. There was a time when I thought I would move up into management and help them fix things from the inside. But after years of abuse, I realized I needed to get more involved with my union instead, and work with the union to force management to do the right things for the workers.”
“One of the biggest problems with making things better at the Port of Oakland is that management has an attitude of ‘The Port is never wrong.’ They Port prides itself on being a pillar of the community, but they never admit to their mistakes, and never try and do better. It’s a huge problem for the workers. A lot of managers are new to the Port, and they come in assuming the worst of workers in every case. The amount of retaliation and unfair discipline to the workers is astronomical. If management is caught in the wrong it’s called ‘manager discretion’. If a worker is caught in the wrong they are suspended. Port employees have been suspended for rules never even shared with the employee. It’s not fair, and not making management accountable, which hurts the organization. This has led to an extremely low-morale workplace where employees do not want to be. In fact multiple employees over the past few years have quit. And many possible candidates for hire won’t consider coming to work here because they feel it’s a toxic workplace.”
Friedman finished, “We’re trying to bargain a fair, equitable contract that gives us what we deserve. It’s time for the Port to show us they care about us workers now, and not just management as they did throughout the pandemic. We demand an equitable, fair COLA. We demand better contract language to prevent all the abuse from management. We demand you hire enough employees to get the needed work done. We demand that you honor the contract and your own policies. We demand that you stop watching surveillance videos and utilizing a security device for spying on employees for the length of the shift hoping to find something and punish us. Other employers and other jurisdictions are way ahead of us, and treat their employees way better. If we want to keep good, knowledgeable, motivated workers, we need to get what’s right from the Port. We want to raise this organization up. But we need the organization to want to be up. Work with us and let’s make the port of Oakland a great place to work.”