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We kick the ass of the ruling class

An Open Letter from America's Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 12, 2011, 7:15 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.

We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.

We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?

We love being behind the wheel. We are proud of the work we do to keep America’s economy moving. But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week, away from our families.

There is so much at stake in our industry. It is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations. We don’t think truck driving should be a dead-end road in America. It should be a good job with a middle-class paycheck like it used to be decades ago.

We desperately want to drive clean and safe vehicles. Rigs that do not fill our lungs with deadly toxins, or dirty the air in the communities we haul in.

Poverty and pollution are like a plague at the ports. Our economic conditions are what led to the environmental crisis.

You, the public, have paid a severe price along with us.

Why? Just like Wall Street doesn’t have to abide by rules, our industry isn’t bound to regulation. So the market is run by con artists. The companies we work for call us independent contractors, as if we were our own bosses, but they boss us around. We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates. (Usually we are not allowed to even see them.) We are paid by the load, not by the hour. So when we sit in those long lines at the terminals, or if we are stuck in traffic, we become volunteers who basically donate our time to the trucking and shipping companies. That’s the nice way to put it. We have all heard the words “modern-day slaves” at the lunch stops.

There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.

The companies demand we cut corners to compete. It makes our roads less safe. When we try to blow the whistle about skipped inspections, faulty equipment, or falsified logs, then we are “starved out.” That means we are either fired outright, or more likely, we never get dispatched to haul a load again.

It may be difficult to comprehend the complex issues and nature of our employment. For us too. When businesses disguise workers like us as contractors, the Department of Labor calls it misclassification. We call it illegal. Those who profit from global trade and goods movement are getting away with it because everyone is doing it. One journalist took the time to talk to us this week and she explains it very well to outsiders. We hope you will read the enclosed article “How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers.”

But the short answer to the question: Why are companies like SSA Marine, the Seattle-based global terminal operator that runs one of the West Coast’s major trucking carriers, Shippers’ Transport Express, doing this? Why would mega-rich Maersk, a huge Danish shipping and trucking conglomerate that wants to drill for more oil with Exxon Mobil in the Gulf Coast conduct business this way too?

To cheat on taxes, drive down business costs, and deny us the right to belong to a union, that’s why.

The typical arrangement works like this: Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks. The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it. Our employers do not have to pay the costs of meeting emissions-compliant regulations; that is our financial burden to bear. Clean trucks cost about four to five times more than what we take home in a year. A few of us haul our company’s trucks for a tiny fraction of what the shippers pay per load instead of an hourly wage. They still call us independent owner-operators and give us a 1099 rather than a W-2.

We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government’s first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?

Even the few of us who are hired as legitimate employees are routinely denied our legal rights under this system. Just ask our co-workers who haul clothing brands like Guess?, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren’s Polo. The carrier they work for in Los Angeles is called Toll Group and is headquartered in Australia. At the busiest time of the holiday shopping season, 26 drivers were axed after wearing Teamster T-shirts to work. They were protesting the lack of access to clean, indoor restrooms with running water. The company hired an anti-union consultant to intimidate the drivers. Down Under, the same company bargains with 12,000 of our counterparts in good faith.

Despite our great hardships, many of us cannot — or refuse to, as some of the most well-intentioned suggest — “just quit.” First, we want to work and do not have a safety net. Many of us are tied to one-sided leases. But more importantly, why should we have to leave? Truck driving is what we do, and we do it well.

We are the skilled, specially-licensed professionals who guarantee that Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart are all stocked with just-in-time delivery for consumers. Take a look at all the stuff in your house. The things you see advertised on TV. Chances are a port truck driver brought that special holiday gift to the store you bought it.

We would rather stick together and transform our industry from within. We deserve to be fairly rewarded and valued. That is why we have united to stage convoys, park our trucks, marched on the boss, and even shut down these ports.

It’s like our hero Dutch Prior, a Shipper’s/SSA Marine driver, told CBS Early Morning this month: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The more underwater we are, the more our restlessness grows. We are being thoughtful about how best to organize ourselves and do what is needed to win dignity, respect, and justice.

Nowadays greedy corporations are treated as “people” while the politicians they bankroll cast union members who try to improve their workplaces as “thugs.”

But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here.

We drivers have a saying, “We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one.”

The brothers and sisters of the Teamsters have our backs. They help us make our voices heard. But we need your help too so we can achieve the day where we raise our fists and together declare: “No one could stop us from forming a union.”

Thank you.

In solidarity,

Leonardo Mejia
SSA Marine/Shippers Transport Express
Port of Long Beach
10-year driver

Yemane Berhane
Ports of Seattle & Tacoma
6-year port driver

Xiomara Perez
Toll Group
Port of Los Angeles
8-year driver

Abdul Khan
Port of Oakland
7-year port driver

Ramiro Gotay
Ports of New York & New Jersey
15-year port driver

port drivers

from Clean & Safe Ports

193 Comments

193 Comments


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[-] 17 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Thank you, drivers, for the hard work you do day in and day out. Thank you for the courage to publicly support this movement. I wish you the greatest success in your fight to unionize.

Please provide this site with a link to the pledge we can sign, and any other petition that might be of value to you.

[-] 1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

doesn't this make more sense? www.nationalday911.org

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

No. The issue is long term workers rights, not charity. And not politicians deciding how to divide the proceeds of that charity.

Economic equity inherent to the system itself and allowing truckers to join a union and get wages and benefits is the answer. Forcing them to remain as 1099 independent contractors with no rights is not solved by your suggestion. A day of voluntary giving is certainly a great idea, but it will not do anything to address the underlying problem: corporate oligarchy.

[-] 1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

Did you read the part about them giving a days profit also?It would give everyone a common ground for one day,,,,unity to work out our differences,,,instead of animosity

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

I don't think one day of singing "Kumbaya" is going to do much to convince the power elite to give up their trillions of dollars of advantage or power.

As I said, it isn't an uncompassionate idea , but the issues are systemic. No system of power gained by intentional corruption will simply change because of a gathering. The corruptors and corrupted are unlikely to see the error of their ways, smack themselves in the forehead, and repent.

The first mandate of power is keeping power. Never in history have those in power relinquished it voluntarily.

So, nice idea, but fatally naive. The ruling plutocracy did not become so due to a sense of altruism.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

Unfortunately all you say is true. The majority of American citizens have been consumed with shopping and entertainment instead of actively participating in holding on to their reigns of power. Consequently we have a complete corporate takeover of all 3 Branches of our government and thus the direction and future of our country. The first mandate of power is keeping power with responsibility.

[-] 1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

Okay.I.agree.its.utopic.lets.just.forget.it.........I.see.the.light.......lol......its.a.possiility.if.we.could.locate.just.10.top.officials.with.class,to.make.it.a.reality.....your.after.guts.you.have.zero.idea.what.it.could.lead.to....

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

It's not Utopic. It's naive.

[Removed]

[-] 1 points by BmtPaula (3) from Beaumont, TX 2 years ago

Reminds me of churches who give loads of money to help individuals and families in need, but do nothing to stop the policies and laws in their communities that create the problem of poverty.

[-] -1 points by ScrewyL (809) 2 years ago
[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

You have no idea what those laws you posted, without context, mean. I can cherry pick as mush as you, but choose not to, because I am repulsed by engaging in willful distortion based on ideology.

Nor are you aware, apparently, despite the truckers' statements above, plain for all to read, that they mostly supported this action. As did the dock workers union. Most understood that this would help them in their own struggles for equity.

[-] 1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Shutting down anywhere would do the same, only to workers in a different industry.

The goal is that the scum who take advantage of honest hard workers will be forced to grant them their rights. The goal is also to bring attention to the fact that companies like Goldman/Sacks, that raped the American (and world) economy, are still making a profit, not only by continuing shady financial practices, but also by exploiting honest workers today, something not known before by the general public.

Maybe if there is enough anger about that among workers throughout this country, the politicians who support Wall Street cronies and exploitive business practices will be booted out of office in the next election.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

You can keep booting the politicians out and all you will get with the current election system is more of the same just dressed to look new. Our campaign finance laws are the mechanism used by the 1% to run our country. With their exorbitant contributions they select their legislators who they know will be their faithful indentured servants. Until we limit all campaign finance to public finance for every level of government nothing will change. We also need to make a constitutional change that does not equate free speech with money. In addition we need to close the doors on career politicians. Limit each public office, elected or appointed, to two terms including SCOTUS. We will also need legislation to prohibits any government official who leaves office from lobbying our government for a period of twenty years. Also all regulators are to be prohibited from working for Industries that they have regulated. Only then will we have the opportunity for real change. This is why OWS is so important. We cannot rely on the majority of our current legislative body to make these changes. It has be be done by the people on a national scale.

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

I certainly agree with most of what you say. with only some minor quibbles. (Got to have those or I would be forced to relinquish my cantankerous reputation!) Unfortunately, those very same politicians are the ones who make the laws regarding campaign financing, and are unlikely to do so. And until term limits are actually imposed on the SCOTUS, the court itself will rule all such laws unconstitutional (including the one about their terms - Article III, Section 1 of the constitution.) That's just as true of any proposed constitutional amendment.

That leaves us with a conundrum. How do we get campaign finance reform from those who are in power and don't want to relinquish it? How do we get them to stop cashing in on post congressional money voluntarily? How does anyone convince them to vote for everything they consider to be against their interests?

I don't have the answers to any of those questions. I really wish I did. The only hope (and it might be tilting at windmills) is to vote most of the current crop out. And I would start at the local and state level, or at least make sure that level is given equal weight. Chances are it won;t work, But I see no chance at all otherwise.

I would welcome your input on this, Sirius.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

This is why this whole situation in our country is sick! A 1 trillion dollar budget out of which 662 billion dollars is allocated for defense spending! The country is reeling in an economic depression and half of Americans are living in poverty. Our infrastructure is crumbling. 662 billion to the military industrial complex and 338 billion for the rest of America. This is insane! More millions of Americans slip sliding into poverty. Yet on Black Friday,150 million American consumers delivered their dollars to the very corporations that outsource American jobs and depress wages at home. There is a massive disconnect. This is why the OWS movement being nation wide and global needs to occupy SPACE for teach ins and community support. For effecting change in a co-opted system may require the people to call for a Constitutional Convention. During the Reagan reign in California, many activists who suggested this were driven underground.

Are you familiar with these two national endevours: movetoamend.org and getmoneyout.com?

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Interesting sites. Thank you.

What they are describing, of course, is a political process that takes decades of concerted effort.

But a call for a Constitutional Convention is unprecedented except for the very first, original one at the birth of the country. At that time, the enemy was external, and the leaders well established heroes of the land. As far as I know, there has never been such a convention since.

So what's needed is a broad grassroots (and ultimately very well-funded) campaign organized and led by singularly focussed, obsessive leaders. THe change would be incremental: heavy involvement in the primaries on a local, state and federal level simultaneously , ensuring that those who share our views are the ones running. PUFF's idea of a pledge to be signed, and vigilantly holding those who do accountable, seems practical. (I'm sure you have seen her forum contribution to that effect.

I would be happy to lend support for that, as I suspect many in OWS would as well.

But we can't fool ourselves: this requires down and dirty political work, lots of it, and sustained over at least a decade before any constitutional amendments can be undertaken. By the laws of the current constitution, the people govern via their representatives, so the first order of business must be to get the ones in who will acquiesce to our demands.

I see no other alternative.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

My concern is when you turn a call for a Constitutional Convention into leader driven movement they can be easily picked off and set against one another. This happened in the Civil Rights Movement as well as in the Women's Rights Movement. In my opinion this can only come about thru a movement such as OWS: leaderless. The OWS encampments where fully recognized by the 1% to be a viable threat and thus millions of dollars where spent to destroy the encampments. I agree with your suggestion that heavy involvement in the primaries can produce important results. The pledge suggestion is also worth working with, though I would not hold my breath on it's effectiveness as long as we have the current campaign finance laws. Should these candidates be elected they maybe successfully wooed away by large financiers. I am in agreement with you that short of miracles this is a long haul process.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

The problem is that there is no such thing as a constitutional convention by unelected people. There is no provision in the law to enable that to happen. Constitutional conventions must be convened by elected representatives. That is simply the law.

I agree with you about the risks of having leaders, but I believe the risks are not only worth it, but absolutely necessary. Leaderless-ness translates to amorphousness in the American psyche, and that's not how OWS can afford to be seen, not if it is to attract a real plurality of the public.

You are incorrect in your assessment of the problem of leadership in the civil rights movement. Sure, there were divisions, often bitter ones, but the movement succeeded amazingly. In the short (historically speaking) span of my life, I went to seeing Blacks prohibited from drinking water at public fountains to an African American elected president of the country. I didn't even vote for him and I wept with joy, as well as with the memory of all the pain and sacrifice that made this transformation possible.

The Women's movement is not only strong, but it has been so successful that most of its early main points have been rendered moot. We now take for granted many of the rights they fought for.

Sustaining a sit in occupation for the decades it will take to make meaningful reform happen is simply unrealistic. Remaining leaderless for too long will do nothing more than create entropy and disillusionment among OWS supports and participants themselves.

It takes a few, fiercely dedicated pit bull personalities who are needed to go the distance. All previously successfully civil protest movements in history have succeeded largely because their leaders never gave up, and never stopped being their focussed and recognizable voice and protagonist. Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Betty Friedan, Ghandi: these are all names we recognize. They didn't do all the work of their movements, not by far, but we remember them as the very face of those movements. They humanized what otherwise would have been abstractions in the broader public's mind., making their goals and ideas relatable. They endlessly helped guide others who had given up or had strayed from the movement's goals. They also had the singularity of purpose that enabled them to see their efforts through the greatest and most long term adversity, including the willingness to sacrifice their lives.

That's what OWS will need soon, I believe.

That said, no movement has ever belonged to its leaders, but to all those millions to toiled in the trenches day to day to make movement happen. While the leaders (usually several) were the brain, the people were the heart and the body. And one can't live without the other.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

Thank you for your thoughtful response. As to the historical examples: Both the Civil Rights and the Women's Movement had a hundred year long history preceding their culmination in the later part of the last century. In any movement that is born there are natural leaders that do emerge. I do believe that this will and most likely is happening within OWS. My experience with national scale movements is that they do take time to develop and evolve. Those that do take the time and space to develop organically have the optimum chance for thriving and growing. When a new movement is pushed into growth and expansion of participants and momentum it is at greater risk of burning out because there is no strong fundamental structure build on a foundation created by all of the participants to sustain it. In my opinion OWS is a very young movement and was born in a sociopolitical system that in it is disguise of a electoral system is far more repressive and controlled than a dictatorial system where the true levers of power and control are on public display. In our system of governance the true levers of power and its machine are out of public view. As you pointed out: a constitutional convention can only be called by elected officials. This is an iron clad control, since those whom the elected officials are serving in our current system do not answer to the people but to those who finance their position in the government. A law that effectively shuts down the possibility of effecting change by the authority of the voters. Should the voters resort to an open revolt against their government they are now legally classifiable as domestic terrorists and can be locked up in our new for profit prison system. Along with the Patriot Act, we have a Homeland Security and Surveillance system in place that employes more than 2 million individuals. In effect we are more bereft of our privacy and thus our rights than the people of the former Soviet Union with it's KGB and current day Chine. We may think we have freedom of speech because we can point to many outrageous statements and ideologies expressed, yet they are all recorded and a file kept. The Chinese are more overt in their intent to control. In China every citizen knows that their speech and movements are controlled by their government. They have no illusion about who holds the power over their destiny. Our system simply has perfected the appearance of an open society. Historically, when you watch the police crackdowns on protesters in our country their use of force and violence was always excessive for the purpose of intimidation and repression to beat the citizenry into compliance with the Status quo. Reagan's claim that he brought the Berlin Wall down is ludicrous. The Soviet Union in each of it's satellite States was rife with underground resistance movements in spite of the fact of political exiling to the Siberian Gulag and psychiatric hospitals. By the time the Soviet Union dissolved 15 million political activists had been exiled out of Ukraine alone to Siberia. This does not include the numbers from Poland, Belorus, Lithuania, Latvia etc. Every system has a breaking point and thru their massive persistent resistance it is always the people that bring the system down. Not some egotistic American President, as Reagan would have us believe.

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 2 years ago

Why are you up so late?

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

I'm an idiot. Had to do some work for my job. Now for about 3 hours of sleep. How about you? Insomnia? (Can't be my opinions you're interested in....too boring.)

"Talk" to you tomorrow.

[-] 0 points by Jflynn64 (337) 2 years ago

I'm on the west coast, so just got back from a party. Good night to you. I enjoy the banter, even though we disagree.

[-] 1 points by ScrewyL (809) 2 years ago

"repulsed" is, I think, a little too colorful a word for sincerity.

Res ipsa loquitur - "It speaks for itself"

they mostly supported this action -- which action?

[-] 12 points by Mark01 (82) 2 years ago

i work in Fedex Ground and they also call us contractors. We deal with just about all the same conditions u guys do. So i know how u feel. i admire deeply what u guys are doing. i just wish the Fedex workers would also take a stand :(

[-] 4 points by ueyhde31542 (4) 2 years ago

used to work for fedex (not as driver). was always angry that annually fedex would send co-wide email bragging about victory that they'd kept co free from unions another year. once, while in audience of hr training, I mentioned same to another ee who worked closely with drivers. that ee told me things about how dangerous job is- for instance because no door on cab of truck, a driver had recently been ejected &decapitated in a traffic accident. the hr person shut us up , physically separated us. as for nastiness, another guy I work with who= lgbtq, asked fedex to start same-sex medical benefits and was told no "people will lie and say they're gay only to get medical insurance".

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 2 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

Maybe you can organize them to make a stand.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Organize them to make a stand? The majority of the drivers decided to WORK for SSA that day. If the protests were truly effective, the roads leading to SSA terminal would have been empty. Not hundreds of drivers lined up to WORK, not PROTEST that day. I'm not saying these drivers were right or wrong, I am just observing what happened. Food for thought.

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

Doesn't this make more sense? www.nationalday911.org OWS should include this in the LIST OF DEMANDS

[-] 1 points by cmt (1195) from Tolland, CT 2 years ago

Keep records, and when you leave the job, file a wage-and-hours violation. There are legal standards for what an independent contractor is, and I strongly suspect you fit the legal standards as an employee. For example, do you set your schedule, or does the company?

Some states have strong wage-and-hour enforcement, usually within their department of labor. There are also federal laws.

http://www.workplacefairness.org/complaintpay?agree=yes

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

Doesn't this make more sense? www.nationalday911.org OWS should include this in the LIST OF DEMANDS

[-] 1 points by cmt (1195) from Tolland, CT 2 years ago

Both would be best!

However, if we have laws and don't take action to enforce them, it's hard to have a reason to complain. Our rights and freedoms: use them or loose them.

[-] 0 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 6 points by OccupyCentre (263) 2 years ago

Thank you all for this insight. I am really pissed off about this. People pay good money to have their stuff shipped from A to B. The least we expect is that the guys who do this work are treated with respect and decency. Having lived in Australia and being a New Zealander myself, I am ashamed that an Australian company is involved in this disgrace. I certainly intend to write to both John Key (NZ) and Julia Gillard (Australia) about this. Also, a letter to Toll will be in order also.

We of the Occupy Movement are solidly behind you guys. We honestly have no idea about what is going on. I have had stuff shipped, and appreciate all the guys involved who get our stuff to us. Last time the guys wanted to know where they could go to clean up. They live in their trucks, they said. Of course, we wanted them to have a bath in our place, It was the least we could do.

The problem is, the public isn't mean. They just don't know.

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 1 points by OccupyCentre (263) 2 years ago

It seems reasonable to have a national day for 9/11. How about 12/7 also. After all, a lot more died in WW2 than 9/11. Still, as the site said, the economic disaster of 9/11 was huge. Everything seemed to go wrong after that. I also think it was very bad for Muslim people.

I would like to see a national day, but make it a day of reconcilation and peace with the Muslims, nearly all of whom were innocent of this great crime.

As for the shut down, I just hope it helped the port workers. You must understand that drivers will be affected by any shutdown whereever. I still intend to write to these people - Key, Gillard and Toll. It is very important that we all do. I think they will listen.

[-] 5 points by Arditum (37) 2 years ago

In italy truck drivers organized a strike even though they were not allowed to. After few days, as grocery stores turned empty and a food crisis became a looming reality, they were given everything they asked for.

[-] 5 points by GreenIguana (36) from New York, NY 2 years ago

The workers deserve strike pay and I'm thinking of bringing this to the GA.

[-] 3 points by thepistolet (28) 2 years ago

That's a great idea.

[-] 5 points by jdwbethesda (27) 2 years ago

Wow.

I have been connected, via local GA's and demonstrations in Washington DC, as well as through online media, to the Occupy movement from very early on. Your letter embodies the same spirit that I believe are at the foundations of Occupations across the country and world; an attempt to bring to the worlds awareness the daily injustice put in place by the 1% to capitalize, not only on our ethics, hard work, and dreams, but also on the concessions hard working people of the world are willing to make in order to provide for the people they care for.

Thank you for taking the time to write this letter. I hear and feel your frustration much clearer now. Your pursuit towards justice and fair working and living conditions resonates with me.

[-] 5 points by Effinbanks (7) 2 years ago

Thanks for educating the majority of us who had no idea as to what extent you've been exploited. You are eloquent representatives of the 99%! I look forward to the time when the hardships and sacrifice you've endured is a thing of the past. Your hard work is appreciated - good luck to you, and all of the 99%!

[-] -1 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

It's the 99% that pays for the extortion these unions practice at our ports. Smarten up.

[-] 2 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Stevedore Services of America and Shippers Transport Express extort non union drivers, not the union. The Teamsters have been driving on the docks for decades. Do your research.

[-] 0 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 0 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

That's an excellent point and I do understand where the core problem sits.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

The truck drivers are considered independent contractors..... therefore, they have no unions.

[-] 0 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

The drivers do have Unions! The Teamsters union has drivers at Maersk Sealand/ Horizon Lines. Know your facts. Therefore the truck drivers DO have unions!

[-] 1 points by Jumphrey (106) 2 years ago

? no they don't.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Obviously the Shippers Transport Express Drivers(Goldman Sachs) are non union..One company SSA were targeted on Dec 12th.Eagle Marine Services (American President Lines), Ports of America: Hanjin Shipping (South Korean) Evergreen shipping(Taiwanese) Yang King shipping RED CHINESE! All these terminals hire non union port drivers . Why where these terminals left alone on Dec 12th? Boycott Cosco shipping (Red Chinese)! They sail out of SSA terminals. Matson Navigation (American) is the state of Hawaii's link to the mainland. They sail out of a SSA terminal. If you shut down the port, you deprive Hawaii of its exports and imports. If you shut down the ports how do the passengers on the lucrative cruise industry get off the ships? Swim? The ILWU works the cruise ships from Alaska, trough ILWU Canada, Washington, Oregon to California. Research Research......

[-] 4 points by donalsaor (4) 2 years ago

Solidarity Comrades,

The only solution to your plight is to educate, agitate and organise. You need and deserve a union that protects your rights from the corrupt and greedy bosses. Never forget the power that lies in the hands of ordinary workers like yourself. It is workers that run society, not the bosses. Don't let them forget that.

[-] 4 points by blazefire (947) 2 years ago

Hi I'm an Aussie, and this story sickens me to my stomach.

I am going to look further into TOLL, and bring it to the melbourne GA. There is no justice in this for you and I would not see, profit brought into MY nation through such appauling conditions.

Thank-you for your courage, and steadfastness.

[-] 1 points by OccupyCentre (263) 2 years ago

Good idea. Thanks for bringing it up at the Melbourne GA. As we would say "it just isn't cricket". I am going to write to Gillard and Toll also. This is not the Aussie style for sure. We will try to sort them out. :)

[-] 4 points by PandoraK (1678) 2 years ago

Driver, rolling boycotts, we've done it before. We've fought fuel tax hikes by not buying fuel in a particular state, we've raised freight rates by not hauling particular types freight.

Rolling boycotts make an impact and they keep those paychecks coming in, even though we all know they aren't enough, redoing just rods and mains are enough to put you down for the year, not only the expense, but the down time.

Hours of service are a joke, we've always known that.

Keep on keepin' on.

Retired 'gypsy' O-O.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (8719) 2 years ago

Thanks for the heads-up about rolling boycotts. Please offer any further suggestions you might have for the 99% to aid drivers in their cause for fair treatment and decent working conditions. Also note, this website is becoming suspect as a communication tool, something that needs to be acted upon by the National General Assembly. This is an issue I plan to bring before them myself, so that this movement can communicate and coordinate more effectively.

[-] 2 points by PandoraK (1678) 2 years ago

Rolling boycotts are about it actually, a general strike has little chance of getting cooperation from the larger percent of drivers, company drivers will be told to load regardless. But a rolling boycott draws the interest of even the companies, higher freight rates, demerge time, make demerge one of the 'demands', (before deregulation we got paid for sitting waiting to load or unload, containers and box trailers including reefers were 4 hours(containers might have been a shorter wait time, been so long I'm not sure if I remember that part right) then $20 an hour for the unit, 2 hours for flat beds), traffic was and is just traffic, sad to say. The worst thing for drivers and O-O's with deregulation was the loss of demerge time. Oh and that $20 figure was from 30+ years ago.

The drivers will know best which container companies they will want to boycott, I was over the road so wouldn't know enough about containers to be much good at advising, plus the retirement thing, too long out of the loop.

Best I could suggest is pick a company, boycott it for a week, then pick another, if that don't being in results, then make it two weeks on the next 'round'.

An adaptation on the rolling boycott could be effective in other areas, pick a company or business, picket them, boycott their products, move on to the next company, until it's tie to go back to the first one, just a bit longer every time. That way it won't impact the little guy so hard but it'll still get a message across.

Here's another hint, mainstream media is always after the big story, so they sit back and collect from the smaller local news channels. Local news channels always need filler, something to put on the air, radio is the same, so make calls, call local. Call them all. Plan the interviews, because there will likely be interviews, make sure what is planned to say is clear and concise, a general outline and that's it, each who speaks needs to speak his/her own words. Go ahead and use some 'trucker language' be sure to explain to the 'audience' what certain terms mean, makes them feel like part of the club, it gathers sympathy.

When the trucks stop, so does America.

There isn't one single thing you have or can buy that at some point wasn't on a truck.

[-] 4 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 2 years ago

I drive a taxi in NYC and wow, did your letter reach me! Once we were employees with a union. Now, like you, we are "independent contractors" (slaves without rights). Occupy is giving back hope for a better world. You drivers are the salt of the earth.

[Removed]

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

[-] 0 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 2 years ago

I was not involved in any shutdown but I felt it was a good thing.

[-] 4 points by LTUnited (5) 2 years ago

Hi there! Greetings from Vilnius, Lithuania. We also follow things up although mass media is very silent about things going on at Occupy in America. BUT LOOK! Our national radio shortly announced the west coast ports being blocked yesterday on morning news! So go on, just be sure to keep it in non violent, and one day we will make old system collapse!

[-] 4 points by lorao (5) 2 years ago

Thanks so much for your hard work and courage. Please post your stories via video ( or ask one of your youth community to film you on their phone) and upload to www.studiooccupy.org capturing the movement in moving pictures.....thanks

[-] 4 points by Keepitsimple (110) 2 years ago

This well-written letter is an example of how the average working people live in fear and underpaid while the bankers drink expensive champagne, play with their fancy toys and get fat from their rich food. Their do is soon to come if they keep up their foul practices. Sounds like the port drivers need to organize...NOW!!!

[-] 4 points by yarichin (269) 2 years ago

The Japanese Railways workers are unionized, but as essential workers they are not able to strike. Their answer? Jumpo Toso. They come to work and slow the transit system down to a crawl, 5-10 MPH. Think how effective truck drivers across America could be at slowing down the highways and centers of commerce.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

That's a great idea!

[-] 4 points by blackbloc (-19) 2 years ago

and you in turn have our support thank you for posting so all the psychopaths can see that you do want our support.

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8719) 2 years ago

We hear you load and clear, and we have your backs to the greatest degree we possibly can! Please keep us abreast of anything we, as the 99%, can do to improve your situation - and thanks for making your voice heard! If there are any reprisals against any who signed this document, tell us, so that we can help with arranging legal representation. The best to all of you!

[-] 3 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

When trucks stop. America stops.

[-] 3 points by Edwin (47) from Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do 2 years ago

Good work team.

[-] 3 points by GlobalSucks (87) 2 years ago

Thanks for your effort and courage

My father is a retired Teamster.

I do know what you are up against.

Stick together when everything is on the line and you will prevail

Good Luck

[-] 2 points by TimMichaels (5) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

Thanks GS, but things are quite a bit different now. For one thing, the folks on the other side have forgotten their manners.

Best, Tim

[-] 2 points by GlobalSucks (87) 2 years ago

Like they ever had manners or respect for workers

Maybe this awakening will make people quit parroting Anti-Union propaganda and realize that unions are the workers only true friend.

There is not another entity in this country that stands up for workers

Maybe it will dawn on them when two people working can't make ends meet, that backing unions might be a way to rise up from the ruin of the 1%

[-] 3 points by nograve (23) 2 years ago

The system of labour unions, like nearly everything else, needs a reform from within.

[-] 2 points by RaddishPie (2) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

Qs.: What can we do to help you form a union?

[-] 2 points by BmtPaula (3) from Beaumont, TX 2 years ago

I thank God for you and your courage to speak out. I pledge to do what I can to help you. I was unaware that it was legal for them to pay by the load instead of by the hour.

[-] 2 points by davidmckay (2) 2 years ago

Right on! Can you convoy your trucks down to Wall Street and snarl it up for a bit? That would be great!

[-] 2 points by Crimzon (91) from Arizona City, AZ 2 years ago

Truckers always get the bad end of business, from docks, to long haul. Your walked on by the state, by the feds, your dispatch, and the unfortunate disadvantages of little home time.

I know... I got 2 days after every 3 weeks away home.

Do the math, see how much time my family got to see me a year

24 days a year with my family basically... not even a whole month. Some truckers get 2 days every two weeks, thats 48 days a year.

I pray occupy changes the industry for truckers, between our dacs being screwed by greedy companies, which we have to pay lawyers to fix even though it was the companies fault, to underpaid we suffer right now I'm in the process of fixing my dac. I cant get hired because a former company lied about my dac Im going through legal fees, everything else just hoping I can get back in the gig so I can feed my family "thats why I do what I do" not because I have a choice... mcdonalds I'm sorry guys it just dont cut it for us... we need you occupy we need a voice

[-] 2 points by noname409 (1) 2 years ago

I appreciate how Occupy Wall Street has changed the conversation and brought legitimacy to discussing the pitfalls of unbridled capitalism, globalization and offshore outsourcing. However, I don't see a useful point to block major West Coast ports? It's starting to seem Occupy Wall Street is directionless and childish, throwing a pointless temper tantrum, where there is nothing you can do to satisfy it's non-demands. Maybe some platform items could be agreed too with out being labeled, "pigeon hold", pawned or just paid lib service by our politicians or lobbyist. Support of American Mfg, Support of "Forgive Student Loan Debt Petition"....?

[-] 4 points by orz (83) 2 years ago

You're questioning protest in general. You then support the opposite of protest by an appeal to ignorance. And then add ad hominems.

[-] 2 points by guero1nd (11) 2 years ago

Christian Vega, a truck driver, was quoted saying "what are they protesting? This only hurts me and the drivers. This will cost me $600. We have jobs and families to support and feed. Most of them don't." Christian Vega and other workers are owed an apology.

Lets be fair and share all sides of the story. This hurt many working people today....you cannot sugarcoat that =/ Millions of dollars in damages have been caused by occupations. There has got to be a better way. Let's put some more thought and consideration into the movements PLEASE! Do not cause more harm to the working people.

[-] 2 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

The occupy the Port of Longbeach had ZERO effect on the economy. Port drivers have to endure long lines before they even reach the gates of the terminal. All it did was distrupt the drivers who DECIDED TO WORK THAT DAY! If the drivers had a Total agreement on the protest would have left their rigs at HOME. Think about it? All those drivers lined up by the Queen Mary Wanted To WORK! If all the truckers were on board the streets would have been devoid of big rigs. But no! The protests hindered those willing to WORK on Dec12 2011!

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Protest your employers Shippers Transport Express. They hire non union drivers. Maersk Sealand/ Horizon Lines hires unionized Teamsters drivers. Knight Transportation of Arizona(a right to work state) also should be protested for hiring non California resident drivers! Injury to one is an injury to all.

[-] 1 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

The "OTHER" McDonald's worker was reported/purported/quoted saying, "I love my part time job as a burger flipper making minimum wage." "This will cost me $60.00 this week from spending it on generic food at Wal Mart." "What are they protesting anyway?" "Why would I want any long term solutions to problems that I have already given up on?" "Somebody OWES me and other idiots because I am a right wing lackey."

Lets be fair and share all the rest of the bullshit stories the right wing manufacture and masturbate to. It is only okay for corporations to to hurt the worker because slave labor is Christian. Please let the corporations continue to move labor overseas and replace all of Americas truck drivers with $25.00 a day employees from Mexico.

[-] 2 points by TimMichaels (5) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

"We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. " That rings true to me. I'm a car dealer, and I had two deliveries today. I won't out the guys that brought me my cars, but it's clear that they're under the same pressure to do more for less, and solely at their risk, that the authors of this letter are under. This is the future for all of us, unless we stand up now, together. What part don't you understand, guero?

Best, Tim

[-] -1 points by guero1nd (11) 2 years ago

There is no evidence that a majority of the workers agree Tim. Explain something to me: Did this protest hurt the 1% and, if so, can you quantify? Did it hurt the working man? Who did it hurt more? That's what's making it difficult to understand. I'm with Christian Vega and the workers that were hurt by this outburst.

[-] 0 points by guero1nd (11) 2 years ago

I hear McDonald's offers tuition reimbursement. It seems that nothing will be good enough to your standards. I'm grateful and admire what companies like Walgreens have been able to achieve. Envy is as sinful as greed.

[-] 2 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 2 years ago

Thank you for the courage to put this on paper and out in the open. I didn't know what the protest was about out on the West Coast, or where you guys stood with it.

I'll be looking for the pledge at Clean and Safe Ports.

D. Winter

http://zendogblog.net

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

I remember turning down an independent contractor job that would have resulted in earning less than minimum wage

I newspaper delivery job

[-] 2 points by emilylacy (2) 2 years ago

incredible letter

[-] 2 points by TIKCHIK (2) 2 years ago

i had no idea this was going on. I am willing to pay a little more. What's fair is fair.

[-] 2 points by RichZubaty (37) from Wailuku, HI 2 years ago

Join the Teamsters! Like my dad did. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” is a Malcolm X quote.

[-] 2 points by Vykan12 (33) 2 years ago

If what you claim is true, port truck drivers should collectively hold a strike. People will notice when their ebay shipments stop showing up at their doors!

[-] -1 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

Do you understand, at all, that west coast port jobs are extremely well paid? They hold our imports hostage and, effectively, charge a tariff on everything coming into the country.

[-] 2 points by Vykan12 (33) 2 years ago

Do you have some sources to support your claim?

[-] -1 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

Look it up for yourself. They've played the hostage game, but at last, their grip is going to loosen up some with the Panama Canal widening project. That'll allow the big container ships to reach eastern U.S. ports. That's important because it'll limit the inland reach of California ports and reduce shipments subject to the unions and their extortion.

[-] 4 points by Vykan12 (33) 2 years ago

Port truck drivers don't even have unions! (I looked that up)

[-] 0 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Port drivers do have unions. The Teamsters union has been driving for Maersk Sealand/ Horizon lines for DECADES! Look it up!

[-] 1 points by forOWS (161) 2 years ago

They are "well paid". However, the cost of living on the west coast, esp. housing, is among the highest in the nation.

[-] 0 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Longshoreman are well paid because it is a very dangerous job. They fought for their union with blood. Dickie Parker and John Knudsen were killed on May 14th 1934 by National Guard troops. The Teamsters have American drivers working for Maersk Sealand/ Horizon lines. The port drivers have had MANY chances to unionize, from communications workers union to the Teamsters, and refused. They would have had full support from the ILWU but decided to cross their OWN brothers picket lines. Know your history! The ILWU had tried to organize! It's Goldman Sachs / Stevadore Services of Americas not allowing Teamsters to organize their own handpicked workforce. Look up Shippers Transport, owned by SSA to break the Teamsters union.

[-] 1 points by alouis (1511) from New York, NY 2 years ago

Workers OUGHT to be "well paid."

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

So, are you saying that those who wrote this letter, the drivers themselves, are wrong and you are right??

[-] 0 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Yes. The drivers are wrong. Check your facts. You are not even from the west coast represented by the ILWU. The Communication Workers of America DID try to organize the non union driver in the eighties(maybe before you were born?)they set up picket lines that the longshoremen refused to cross. The CWA effectively shutf down the porketts of LB/LA! WE honored that picketline! SCAB non union drivers crossed that line, not us. Union Teamsters truck driver brothers and sisters have been driving at non SSA docks since the sixties. Protest Shippers Transport Express, owned by SSA, not the ILWU. They have wisdom and experience of working during tbd Great Depression while facing the same government NAZI storm troopers that you are. Research the great strike of 1934! Realize how many Longshoremen DIED for your very cause of workers rights! This is OUR battle too! Look up Harry Bridges founder of the ILWU. The ILWU workers have paid with blood.l Look up bloody thursday, July 5th. The west coast docks close for 24 hours in the memory of those killed for YOUR CAUSE. Yes they are wrong, and I am right for I speak the TRUTH.It may hurt, but it ALWAYS sets you free.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

The Chinese shipping companies are not charged tariffs! Do your research before you speak!

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Shippers Transport Stevedore Services of America

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Shipperstransport.com

[-] -1 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

The hostage days at our ports are about the draw to a close. Idiotic protests at Oakland just worsen the port's already bad reputation.

[-] 2 points by paulg5 (673) 2 years ago

This isn't the way CNN has reported it!

[-] 3 points by bpmangan (123) from New York, NY 2 years ago

I would tend to trust port workers over CNN. They are a first-hand source and CNN is a second-hand one. OWS merely picked this article off of the web from the Clean and Safe ports site. They didn't manipulate it, please stop implying that. Not to say that other media is inherently bad or wrong and OWS is right, but in this instance the port workers are a primary source and CNN is a secondary one. There is a reason that what the port-workers say would stand up in court, while what CNN says is merely hearsay.

[-] 2 points by paulg5 (673) 2 years ago

I'm just pointing out that there is quite a discrepancy between the two reports is all.

[-] 0 points by Joker (1) 2 years ago

Thats what so great about america,if you dont like your job. you have the freedom to go do something different.most truck driver i know do pretty good.

[-] 2 points by bpmangan (123) from New York, NY 2 years ago

In a country where unemployment is as high as it is, you may technically have that freedom, but the very realistic fear that you won't be able to get another job keeps most people from doing so. Just because the economy is bad and someone is scared they could go homeless if they quit their job doesn't mean it should be fair for the truck drivers to be treated as they are.

How many of the truck drivers you know are teamsters or union members otherwise? I know a few and they don't do bad, these workers are independent contractors and therefore can't unionize and have no rights to the benefits of unionization.

[-] 3 points by Frizzle (520) 2 years ago

no kidding. Mainstream media aren't the best source of information.

[-] 1 points by TheEqualizer (42) 2 years ago

so these people are basically feeding (shipping) the products to the same corporations we despise. grow some balls and walk off the job. i gave up everything to fight this fight. i am bankrupt, jobless and homeless now and will fight to the death. you have no safety net? tough luck. you wanna really make change, then be willing to make some real serious sacrifices. there are people willing to die for what they believe. maybe others should at least be willing to give up their jobs and material possessions. everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too while OTHERS make the real sacrifices. STAND UP!

[-] 1 points by deejay (7) 2 years ago

These people do not represent the vast majority of port workers. At the port where I live, the port workers were using their cars to push past the occupiers that were in the roads protesting. The protesters, showing their maturity (not!) banged on their cars as they passed by.

[-] 1 points by 1SiriusMagus (311) from Minneapolis, MN 2 years ago

A heartfelt thank you to each of you for the openness and honesty with which your share your struggle for economic Justice. What you describe as "independent contractor" has long been used by corporations to avoid paying a living wage, health benefits, paid holidays and vacations and sick leave. As an 'independent contractor" the only profit and benefit goes to the corporations. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Until now I was unaware of this situation in trucking.

[-] 1 points by Inquisitum (1) from Calgary, AB 2 years ago

Why not form a professional association which all private contractors can join and through that organization advocate for improved industry standards, compensation and humane working conditions. Its not a union but could function in a similar way to lobby for the changes that are needed in the industry.

[-] 1 points by masini (2) 2 years ago

In America no longer work as it was previously appreciated. Now if you have a briefcase and know how to play the stock market is best. It is time for us many, those who make America grow, to have our rights well established. Can not that people do not know how to work lead us like sheep. http://www.miere-bucovina.ro/miere-de-albine-cu-scortisoara.html

[-] 1 points by totiedye4 (1) 2 years ago

I had no idea you were working in conditions like this, its unimaginable. As a consumer of the products you provide, I'm so sorry. I wish I could stop encouraging it, but then you wouldn't have a job. I can understand the predicament you are in, wanting to stop it but not wanting to lose your job. You say...We drivers have a saying, “We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one.” MORE POWER TO YOU!! I wish you all the best of luck and hope alot changes for you, and for the better.

[-] 1 points by chrisbreandon (2) 2 years ago

GREED !!! That's the word honchos of Wall-street should use. All they care about is money, this is an honest letter from Drivers Union. Their desire is nothing more than that of a decent salary & basic working conditions. I think Unions across the great state of America should unite, after all America was built by workers & not by 1%. The 1% only believes in exploiting the helplessness of 99%

[-] 1 points by iamthetruemichael (1) 2 years ago

Hello, I am a 22 year-old Canadian-born American citizen raised in Oklahoma. I spent four years in university studying world languages and science only to graduate in the middle of a worldwide recession, where the only people who would've looked at my resume was the US military. I, naive of the system, turned to truck driving wooed by promises of "up to $4000" a month by the trucker school reps. Roadmaster in Oklahoma City accepted me, but because I didn't have $4000 for tuition, I went for the financing. They instead charged me $6500 because it was financed, and the loan-shark company that financed it charges 18% interest. I went to work for Covenant at 21 years old, driving around the country surrounded by men nearly twice my age in no better financial situation than myself. Some weeks I made $200. Some weeks I made $600. I've seen the legal shit you are talking about. I've seen those DOT and DPS agents, the lot of them just itching to catch another trucker violating some complicated rule so they can fine him a month's income. The people in the office are ignorant of the situation, they are like everyone else in society - blame the trucker. If something went wrong it was the trucker's fault.

I left the United States. I am home in British Columbia, working on a pre-apprentice program to become an electrician, and work for a proper union, for a living wage, and humane conditions. In the evenings I deliver pizza, and I make more in tips, taking food to people, than I did driving 50,000lbs of valuable goods and materials around the United States in the dead of winter, day and night, living by coffee, praying for sunrise and a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll come home to the United States when you people are ready to fight, and take back your country... :'(

[-] 1 points by tsdevi (307) 2 years ago

I just received an alert citing the concessions that were made by Democrats in order for the Republicans to extend the pay roll tax cut...increasing cost of healthcare for seniors, provisions for the XL Keystone pipeline, and other untenable conditions. In a time when we should be eliminating the need for oil, we are pushing to exploit it further, in a time when we should be allowing for progressive reforms that extend health care to ALL citizens, in the form of single payer health insurance, we instead have a health care system that benefits insurance companies. In a time when we need to be investing in infrastructure, in reforming our schools by elevating standards and making education accessible at all levels, in these times we are instead starving these crucial necessities. In a time when we need to reign in the banks and severely restrict their power, corrupted bankers have inordinate influence as they make pretend profits by extorting real efforts from the people. This is not our Democracy unless we assert our ownership of it.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

The strength and perseverance of the longshoremen! Since 1934 we have fought for workers rights. Research ILWU founder Harry Bridges. Keep up the fight. Remembers an injury to one is an injury to all.

[-] 1 points by Joker (1) 2 years ago

Wouldnt it be nice if we all made longshoremen wage.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

With that wage comes respect. Respect for your fallen union brothers who died for these wages. How many people at your work have been killed. My fellow workers have been crushed by hatch covers, fallen over a hundred feet from a crane to the cild steel hold of a container ship. Run over by the giant tires of a rubber tired crane. Impailed by a railcar connection, crushed by s ships winch. These men were all killed while working on the docks. I knew each of these brave men. If you are willing to die doing your job then shut up.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Yes it would be nice. Do your research. The average longshoreman in the 1970s made less then their truck driving Unionized Teamsters brothers and sisters. Most shipping terminals during the 70s had mainly Teamsters as port drivers. Scab drivers crossed union picket lines to work at anti American companies like Stevedore Services of America. This company is evil. They are trying to bust all unions in America! Yes won't it be nice to earn Longshoreman wage. However I am fully aware of the sacrifices by our fallen breathren in the name of workers rights. People were killed by my own government so this wage is attainable. It would be nice to make NBA, NHL, MLB,NFL wages also.....

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

You chose to drive for Shippers Transport Express. Maersk Sealand/Horizon Lines hires unionized Teamsters drivers. SSA is the enemy, not the ILWU.

[-] 1 points by ogrdanny (73) from Grand Rapids Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

An IWW slogan that I like: Organize the worker, not the job. http://www.iww.org/en/history/campaigns/stocktontroqueros/9 A union that waits for leaders is a union that doesn't work. This is why rank-and-file unionism has been growing despite the business union decline. Our goal isn't recognition, our goal is progress and and end to exploitation.

[-] 1 points by dezire321 (1) 2 years ago

I'm doing my best to speak out for the 99% movement. I am a mom of an 8 month old child so I cant occupy, I must put my child first. But I can spread the word, tell all my facebook friends, all my family and friends in the real world, and even strangers I see at the supermarket, laundry, and library. I can speak for you, me and everyone like us who are struggling. I can also talk about noncompliance. Max Igan (thecrowhouse.com) preaches "Fight the new world order with global noncompliance. Do your best to not participate or contribute to the system and always do what you know in your heart is right."

[-] 1 points by dezire321 (1) 2 years ago

I'm doing my best to speak out for the 99% movement. I am a mom of an 8 month old child so I cant occupy, I must put my child first. But I can spread the word, tell all my facebook friends, all my family and friends in the real world, and even strangers I see at the supermarket, laundry, and library. I can speak for you, me and everyone like us who are struggling. I can also talk about and practice noncompliance. Max Igan (thecrowhouse.com) preaches "Fight the new world order with global noncompliance. Do your best to not participate or contribute to the system and always do what you know in your heart is right."

[-] 1 points by julieann (0) 2 years ago

I commend you for standing up and speaking out! Good luck to all of you.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

This letter certainly needs to get more attention, so let's get it out there. It not only speaks for those in this occupation, but it also speaks for those who are being taken advantage of, in the name of profit.... whatever it is they do to pay the bills.

[-] 1 points by paulsidewinder (1) 2 years ago

The pledge they refer to in the letter above is linked here:

http://cleanandsafeports.org/blog/2011/12/12/an-open-letter-from-america%E2%80%99s-port-truck-drivers-on-occupy-the-ports/

Drivers, we stand behind you!

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

In solidarity with real wage workers, i'd like to humbly solute you for your service and wish you the best. May better days be just around the bend.

[-] 1 points by NiceLovelyDay (55) 2 years ago

I had no idea that this was going on, but it should be no surprise.

[-] 1 points by llf (144) 2 years ago

This letter shows the ways in which workers in many sectors have been impoverished, and their working conditions have been made even more intolerable, by selfish and greedy corporate bosses. This has happened in many sectors of the economy and parts of the country over the last three decades and folks are finally waking up and realizing that the only way things are going to get better us by organizing and fighting for it. One side has paid lobbyists and politicians---the other the power of fairness, justice and the force of the masses. But an unorganized mass is not as effective as a more organized process and OWS is certainly developing an open framework where these struggles can be connected conceptually and linked in practice and action...

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

thank you for our voice

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[-] 0 points by economicallydiscardedcitizen (761) 2 years ago

Thank you truckers for all the hard work you do. Every word of the terrible conditions is true and was true as far back as the 1990's when husband last used his multiple licensure including HAZMAT certifications. Please, any truckers reading need to sign the petition so they can have a union and stop the abuse!

[-] 0 points by bereal (235) 2 years ago

"But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week..."

Do you really believe they make $150.00-$180.00 gross for working 60 hours per week? Give me a fuckin' break!

[-] 0 points by marcxstar (167) from Los Angeles, CA 2 years ago

Thank you, truck drivers. Your stories are important for all of us to hear.

[-] 0 points by SmithGoesWashington (72) 2 years ago

I hug you all with tears in my eyes and with all solidarity, friendship and love.

[-] 0 points by sufinaga (513) 2 years ago

absolute equality and solidarity with the unions we are all in this together! or we will all be in the FEMA concentration camps together. the ENEMY is the big landowners who did NOT work for their fraudulent property rights. the real ENEMY is the freemason/knights templar elite. we must have a mixed economy of socialism and capitalism. neither those concepts nor terrorism is the enemy! the ENEMY are the slave masters and their redneck slave driver crucifixion merchants!

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[-] 0 points by bill1102inf2 (357) 2 years ago

All port drivers need to strike!!!! Shut down the ports by parking your trucks there!!

[-] 1 points by PandoraK (1678) 2 years ago

Strikes are bad moves. I know I've lived through a couple of them. Over the road or port there isn't much difference. You get paid by the load or by the mile, you sit in traffic, you wait to load or unload, lost time, lost money.

Strikes are when the nuts come out of the woodwork, it isn't drivers shooting at other drivers who choose to keep rolling, it's people with nothing at stake, but get out to 'have fun'. People have died during trucker strikes, people who aren't truckers, just following one.

Boycotts are their best bet. I explained rolling boycotts above. With boycotts O=O's (those who own trucks and have huge payments) are able to participate without fear of loosing their trucks, companies often will participate when it's better rates and demerge time being asked for.

All those saying 'dumb ass driver', remember, it's that dumb ass driver that brings the coffee you drink in the mornings, the cokes you want during the day, the shoes on your feet, the clothes on your back, the brick and lumber that built your home and the car you drive, the fuel you burn, the food you eat.

Someone must have missed reading this line...

"We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story." Elected by committees of our co-workers, ports on both coasts. For a while maybe Miami and Houston, Corpus Christie, Galveston will pick up the slack, but costs to end customers will go up, lock fees will be added into shipping costs, and before long those ports will have container truckers not happy with their compensation when they realize that they are hauling more loads for less, and they too join in.

[-] -1 points by poltergist22 (159) 2 years ago

I drive also but not for the ports ,I didnt agree with the shut down ,The movement should have shut down somewhere that didn't cost honest hard workers a days pay but since you did do that why don't you consider this and include it in your list of demands. It makes sense to me to have the money and clout to change things www.nationalday911.org

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[-] -1 points by Kevabe (81) 2 years ago

Shut up Truck Drivers! Now get back to work so I can have my stuff!

[-] -1 points by lizikrus (6) 2 years ago

If its so unfair and hard, why in the world dont you just quit and find a better job.

[-] 4 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

That's your answer..... to quit and not fight for what is fair and just? What if EVERYONE who was treated unfairly and unjustly just quit and didn't fight?

[-] -1 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

You mean an open letter from 5 truck drivers claiming to speak for thousands of them?

Kind of like a small group of people claiming to speak for 99% of the population...

[-] 2 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

Rosa Parks was such a silly Negro.

[-] 0 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

So the unions are now the enemy, instead of the banks? The rally I went to in NY seemed pro-union, as did the use of a union building (UFT) as OWS headquarters in NYC. Is OWS now in the business of stopping work at union sites even if a union seemingly objects? Where do they get that right exactly? Does the GA trump a union's own voting membership?

[-] 2 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

It's beyond your comprehension. You're not seeing the big picture.

Maybe, you should stop being a tea bagger.

[-] -1 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

I see you decided to label anyone in the 99% who dares to criticize. If you can't respond to reasonable questions without calling people names maybe your the one who doesn't comprehend the big picture?

[-] 0 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

It's spelled, "you're." (As in; "You are" a dumb tea bagger.) Can you comprehend basic 4th grade English?

[-] 0 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

I'm sorry I don't spend my entire life grammar checking my message board entries. I actually have better things to do.

Any since when is the tea party pro-union?

[-] 0 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

You don't have to check when you're smart enough to get it the first time. Tea bagger is as tea bagger does.

[-] -2 points by Joker (1) 2 years ago

Its better to be the bagg-er then the bagg-ed asswipe.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

The Constitution gives EVERYONE the right to protest, whether you agree with the protest or not.

[-] 1 points by Joker (1) 2 years ago

BUt not the right to break the law.

[-] -1 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

I am not questioning anyone's first amendment rights. I am questioning whether showing up at a union workplace and telling workers who have an elected union leadership that they are on strike and we are going to block your hard won right to work is a good idea.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Amen brother! Hard earned right to work is right! Look up the great strike of 1934! Look up the strike of the seventies. I will always remember the members like Dickie Parker and John Knudsen who were killed by our very government, because they chose to decent. Look up the history of 1934 ILWU. Tell me about the funeral procession that marched down Market st. In San Francisco. Thousands of people came out to honor the slain longshoremen. Remember, and injury to one is an injury to all

[-] 1 points by ThunderclapNewman (1083) from Nanty Glo, PA 2 years ago

In Homestead, PA there are National Historic Markers to the labor movement and the strikes and lockouts that occurred, as I'm sure there are elsewhere throughout the country.

If any are interested, here's a link concerning some of the earliest times in the US labor movement:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Strike

[-] 0 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

Just did - pretty amazing history

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Thank you for taking the time to research. It is an amazing history.The ILWU is an an ally, not an enemy.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

From what I have read, the union agreed to this. Maybe the bosses don't, but the union members do.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Bosses? The unionized foremen of the ILWU or the superentendants that manage the terminals?

[-] 0 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

Read where? From what I have read there was no consensus whatsoever this time around.

Now OWS is going after union "bosses"? Is there some big division between ILWU democratically elected leaders and membership I am not aware of?

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

No the elected officials are all rank and file. Once there term is over they return to the same longshore jobs theydid before they held office. Harry Bridges, an Australian immigrant, started as a sailor. He saw the injustices around he and his fellow dock workers. A working class sailor founded one of this great countries most powerful union, the ILWU. Every union official from Harry Bridges to the current leadership are just plain ol blue collar working stiffs that return to the same longshore job that they did before they were elected. Democracy in its purest form. OOF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE. Imagine President Bush returning as Governor of Texas, or President Obama returning as Illinois senator after he leaves office?

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

If 5 truck drivers speak for thousands, why were there hundreds of trucks lined up willing to work on Dec 12th 2011 on pier J Long Beach? They wanted to work not protest. If they truly were on board, you wouldn't have seen one big rig. There were more drivers willing to work that day then protesters. Think about it. Where the truckers willing to sacrifice a days wages that day? It didn't seem so.

[-] 0 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

Those are good points - this whole incident was strange.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

They are speaking for truck drivers and were elected by the rest. I guessed you missed that part or didn't comprehend it.

[-] -1 points by zucnei (103) 2 years ago

No - I read their website - the claim is that they were elected by representative committees in some totally undefined way, according to the website linked above, hence it is a "claim" as I said.

There is no record of who elected them or how they were elected anywhere - as opposed to the ILWU, which has elected union officials and were basically told they were on strike yesterday by OWS without appropriate consultation. OWS does not have the right to tell people when they are or are not on strike.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

So, are you saying they MUST show on their web site how they elected those to speak for them as a whole before you'll believe anything that OWS says? Are you inferring that this letter was made up by OWS or that union members dishonestly are representing the opinions of union members as a whole? Please leave the union officials out of it. We're talking about general union MEMBERS here and not the officials.

[-] 1 points by Longshoreman (34) 2 years ago

Union officials are the rank and file. They are common laborers freely elected by their peers. Longshoremen and port truck drivers are all under the authority of the ILWU contract, which prohibits strikes without prior notification through the proper grievance machinery between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association(PMA). This has been accepted by both management and labor! Look up the Taft Hartley act and report back to me.

[-] -2 points by fishb8 (62) 2 years ago

but ... however you may feel . .. .this will not get the results you expect . . . . and a strike must be specific to issues . . . ., not random , or evasive . . leaderless as ows claims to be.

This "organic, humanistic" blob of people has been duped and is in cahoots with, perhaps by accident, the worst of the most evil. OWS Blobs are like the movie. Amorphic, collective of unthinking organizisms, engulfing everything in its path . .leaving its slimy excrement as it goes . . . cut it and it splits only to regroup at a new infection site . . . . it must be frozen and dropped at the South Pole....

[-] 2 points by inlikeflint (42) 2 years ago

That's right. I don't care how much you want desegregation in the schools. It will never happen no matter how much you protest. Just get back to the back of the bus and be happy you can just ride...

[-] 1 points by bpmangan (123) from New York, NY 2 years ago

You should read Wendell Berry's essay "In Distrust of Movements." In it he basically argues exactly the opposite of what you have said. That any movement which seeks systemic change, but allows itself to be pinned down to one specific thing will never create any real systemic change. The current system and its problems will merely bend to cover the bare minimum of that one specific issue you settled on and pass all the negative effects of it on to other things negatively affected by a broken system.

[-] 1 points by SwissMiss (2435) from Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

Whoever said this movement is about just one thing? It's about so many things on many different levels. I guess the one thing it is about, if you want to pick just one thing, is inequality.

[-] 1 points by bpmangan (123) from New York, NY 2 years ago

I was refering to fishb8's "a strike must be specifi to issues not random or evasive." I agree with you.

[-] 2 points by unionman (2) 2 years ago

As a union clerk in the US Gulf, I have seen that trucking companies love to exploit new immigrants to our country. Recent immigrants will work for less and are naive to the trucking business, and get taken advantage of when buying a truck, financing, insurance and weekly settlements. (PAYCHECK) The established truck owner operators have suffered as they know through experience that they cannot move cargo containers for the cheaper rates and make a decent living. I encounter drivers daily that cannot communicate in English, creating safety issues and production issues. I have seen plastic bottles of urine disposed of in my work areas as a result of lack of restroom facilities.

The owner-operators may have a work stoppage, but there will always be another driver to bust their hump to capitalize on the extra work.

Corporate CEO's and politicians will be the demise of the middle class. My meager retirement funds are losing money while the stock fund managers make a bundle. Washington wants to raise the retirement age and pilfer my social security. After 30 years of working and paying taxes I am weary.

[-] 0 points by marga (82) 2 years ago

These are your thoughts and they are indeed evil and destructive. You are digging your own grave and don't even know it. Perhaps we should just give you selfish and self centered people a push and bury you because you're already dead.

[-] -2 points by pinker (586) 2 years ago

Nice having others to do your work, eh? How much have unions donated to political funds?

www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A

I'm not against unions, but talk about being co-opted. OWS is being duped here.

[-] 3 points by sinead (474) 2 years ago

The Union representing the Longshoremen did not "co-opt" this! In fact they didn't support it.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Port-shutdown-pledged-despite-union-rejection-135343788.html

[-] -2 points by pinker (586) 2 years ago

Like they're going to put it in writing.

victoriataftkpam.blogspot.com/2011/12/occupaid-portland-longshore-union.html

[-] 1 points by sinead (474) 2 years ago

Individual longshoremen belonging to the union may support this but the Union does not.

Just as the truckers that wrote the above letter of support...... not all of them do. There were interviews on CBS news today with some individual truckers that were not happy about this... They lost wages because of it.

[-] -2 points by pinker (586) 2 years ago

They can't support it or they get fined 5000.00

[-] 2 points by sinead (474) 2 years ago

By who?

[-] 1 points by ogrdanny (73) from Grand Rapids Charter Township, MI 2 years ago

My union isn't on there.

[-] -3 points by pinker (586) 2 years ago

Dislike it all you want, the numbers in billions don't change.

[+] -5 points by fandango (241) 2 years ago

Phoney .

[+] -6 points by Censored (138) 2 years ago

Heh, dumb ass driver. Do a little research into the Panama Canal. See, it's being expanded so your bullshit extortion game at our west coast ports is coming to an end.

Ports in Miami, Houston and elsewhere will pick up shipments that would've gone into your skim operations at Long Beach and Oakland. Nobody likes your blackmail, so fuck off.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

Highlights of the #D12 West Coast Port Shutdown

http://occupywallst.org/forum/watch-live-west-coast-port-shutdown/