Oakland's port is shut down by protesters, more shifts cancelled than planned
December 13, 2011
The ports of Portland and Oakland were shut down today by occupy-affiliated demonstrators , and partial port shut-downs occurred in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Half to cut the boredom, half to stay warm, demonstrators in Oakland threw an all-night dance party at the port of Oakland. Looming in the distance, the port’s large cranes, which lift containers between tanker ships and trains or trucks, were motionless, as the longshoremen who run the cranes were prevented from working for over 24 hours.
In Oakland, negotiations between unions and bosses seemed to dictate which shifts would be cancelled. The longshoremen have been prevented from entering the port for their originally scheduled 3:30am shift, and regular port activities are set to resume at 7am local time Tuesday.
Critics of the demonstration wonder how the closure hurts Wall Street, and point to truckers who have been forced to take a smaller paycheck, as a result of working fewer hours because of the protest. But why should protesters absorb this blame, when the bosses of those truckers are the ones docking the paycheck, and punishing the truckers for the protest. If the workers were paid a fair salary, and given decent benefits, neither of which they currently have, then the truckers wouldn’t be in a position where other people, by doing nothing more than exercising their rights as human beings to stand in public, could directly cause them financial harm. In finance, this is called risk – and because corporate executives have transferred that risk to those struggling to get by doesn’t mean that those bosses are any less guilty.
The 1% oppresses human beings around the world by pitting poor against poor. We’re seeing this here, where truckers’ bosses cut employee pay simply because a protest happened. This incentivizes to parties against each other, when their natural instinct would be to unite.
Other critics object that the port blockade is simply delaying shipping, especially when people are waiting on gifts for the holidays. This criticism is totally wrong. The Occupy movement is (partially) about consuming less. It’s not going to kill you if a package arrives a day later. Use it as a chance to reaffirm your stance against consumerism. The holidays should be about family and friends, not the punctual arrival of whatever it was that you bought from China.
At worst, the workers involved in this protest will gain from the added visibility to their cause.
By doing nothing more than standing, human beings today brought the gears of global capitalism to a screeching halt. Victims of economic crime have found a way to answer back, and their voice is getting louder.