Truck drivers planned a walkout at the Port of Oakland on Monday in protest of a bill they say will take away their ability to work as independent contractors.
According to Fox KTVU News, the drivers say that State Assembly Bill 5 will force them to become employees, but most of the truckers in Oakland operate as independent owner operators.
“Most of the truckers in Oakland are independent contractors. That means they own their own trucks, they drive their own trucks,” said Bill Aboudi, owner of AB Trucking.
“These are independent, small businesses that choose to operate their own trucks and now that right is taken away from them. They do pay taxes, they do have insurance. It’s their choice to do that,” Aboudi said.
“These guys are very hard workers. They were classified as essential workers. They worked through the pandemic, kept everything moving, and now they just need attention to keep their livelihood moving,” he continued.
The demonstrating drivers warn that the protest could last for multiple days, disrupting port operations.
“We’re going to try and take care of our customers as best we can, but the port will not be operating. Owner operators have made it clear that the port will be completely shut down to send a message,” Aboudi said.
AB5 was initially passed back in 20219 in an attempt to protect more of California’s workers by making them eligible for employee benefits, but the truckers say that AB5 means that they are no longer in control of their own livelihood and are forced to work for someone else.
A similar protest was held in Los Angeles last week.