By KAREN VELIE
Independent truckers are blocking access to the Port of Oakland for the fifth day in protest of California’s “gig worker” law. The blockade is delaying the transportation of perishable food products such a beef, pork and dairy items.
Supporters of AB 5, a state labor law that requires companies reclassify independent contractors as employees, contend the law will help hinder labor abuses. The law requires companies to pay truckers minimum wage and provide workers’ compensation and other benefits.
On the other side, independent truck drivers, of which there are about 70,000, argue the law forces them to pay hefty equipment and insurance costs, which in the past trucking companies covered. These cost could easily run more than $20,000 a month forcing these small contractors to work as employees.
Union representatives argue that the truckers can then join a union and fight for higher pay and more benefits.
Meanwhile, some shipping companies are talking about moving their business to states such as Virginia or Georgia, where they do not have to contend with blockades and trucker shortages.