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Truckers quietly end Oakland Port protest without resolution

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The Port of Oakland has resumed operations after a multi-day blockade by truckers that ended without resolution. 

The protest against AB5, a bill making owner operators into employees in an attempt to protect them, began last Monday, July 18th and ended over the weekend after days of holding the cargo flow captive. By Monday, July 25th, most of the participating drivers had returned to work on threats of arrest for blocking the port and in hopes of making back some of the money lost in the last week, reported Mercury News.

During the protest, the drivers called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to amend AB5, but the blockade ended without any concessions for lawmakers, and Newsom even reiterated his commitment to enforcing AB5. The Port of Oakland has since agreed to act as a go-between for the owner-operators and Sacramento, and to organize a “working group” of truckers and port officials to review “concerns regarding implementation of AB 5.”

While no specific progress was made during the protest, some drivers, such as Navdeep Gill, who owns his own small trucking company, says the drivers feel as if the demonstration gave the trucking community a voice among political leaders, even as the drivers return to work. 

“We are responsible citizens and it’s our responsibility to not break the supply chain,” Gill said, warning that the truckers will “all come back” to block the port again if progress is not made in the coming months. 

Since its introduction in 2019, Uber and Lyft have already spent $200 million on a successful ballot measure to exempt them from AB 5 but that measure was ruled unconstitutional by a state court and is now working its way through a federal appeals court. California truckers have also filed a lawsuit against the law, but the Supreme Court declined to review a case opposing AB5. The state of California is now free to enforce the new law, but it has not yet been implemented. No timeline for the implementation and enforcement of the new law has been released.

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