Port of Oakland blames AB5 protest on 28% decline

August 19, 2022

Mark Schremmer


A weeklong protest over California’s Assembly Bill 5 led to a 28% decrease in container volume, the Port of Oakland says.

“The port was closed nearly a week last month due to the trucker protests voicing concern over AB5,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a news release. “This congestion reduced our overall July volume.”

According to the Port of Oakland, its total loaded container volume in July dropped 28% when compared to July 2021. Specifically, 116,629 20-foot containers moved through the port last month. A year ago, the port moved 162,898 containers.

Loaded imports fell 26.7%, and loaded export containers dropped by 30.8%.

“The Port of Oakland is experiencing on-going supply chain issues which have been exacerbated by a weeklong boycott by independent truckers protesting the state law AB5,” the news release said. “The protest snarled port operations, slowing the unloading of inbound ships, and delaying imports from leaving the terminals.”

In the courts

The protests, which ended on July 25, followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to not hear the California Trucking Association’s case against AB5, which is a state worker classification law that makes it more difficult for someone to be considered an independent contractor. The protests lasted several days, forcing the port to shut down some of its gates and terminals.

In response to the protest, port officials filed a complaint for injunctive relief on July 25 with the Superior Court of California in Alameda County. Robert Bernardo, director of communications for the Port of Oakland, confirmed with Land Line that a temporary restraining order was granted on Aug. 2. In addition, a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Aug. 29.

“While the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech and the right to petition for a redress of grievances, the United States Supreme Court has unequivocally and repeatedly held that the First Amendment does not permit protesters to prevent persons and vehicles from traversing public rights of way in the hopes of securing a captive audience or drawing media attention to their cause,” the Port of Oakland stated in its complaint. “Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has held that the government has an affirmative responsibility to prevent protesters from blocking streets.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the California Trucking Association’s arguments kicked the case back to district court. The next appearance in district court also is scheduled for Aug. 29. LL