On Wednesday, hundreds of trucks that tried to enter the Port of Oakland were turned away by longshoremen who were mourning the loss of one of their own and honoring her memory.
According to The Reporter, on Tuesday, Joy Leona Daniels, 45, suffered an unknown medical emergency at approximately 2:45 p.m. She was transported to the hospital, where she later died.
After learning of her death on Tuesday, union workers stood down and ceased all operations. The stand down lasted from Tuesday night until Wednesday evening at approximately 6:00 p.m.
The stand-down period is part of a long-standing tradition amongst the longshoreman that dates back to the 1930s.
“It’s a long-standing, proud tradition,” Ed Henderson, the business agent for the Local 10, the San Francisco/Oakland chapter of the International Longshore and Workers Union, told The Reporter. “When a worker dies while in the course of doing the job. We do it out of solidarity for the worker.”
Union President Mike Villeggiante told The Reporter that in addition to allowing the workers some time to mourn, the 24-hour stand down also allows time for an investigation of the incident.
“When you lose a family member, you mourn,” Villeggiante said. “The other reason (for the work stoppage) is to give adequate time for an investigation to take place. It’s not a strike of any kind. It’s just a matter of trying to find out what happened, so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
While many can appreciate the sentiment, some drivers were not pleased, because if they’re not working, they’re not able to earn a living.
Mike Fortner, a driver for Centennial Trucking, said he drove from Colorado and was supposed to be in Salinas on Wednesday, but because of the 24-hour delay, he won’t be able to make it to his next stop on time.
“If I’m not rolling, I’m not making money. I know how it is to lose somebody, but this is bad business,” he said.
Port of Oakland spokesman Robert Bernardo agreed with the drivers and said that the closure has a big impact on the truck drivers, because they can’t deliver their goods.
“The merchants don’t receive their goods, so there is a sizable impact,” said Bernardo. “But we do sympathize with this, and we’re always saddened when a worker dies on the job.”