Longshoreman Sent Home, Blame Occupy

Occupy movement appeared to hurt the 99-percent Monday in Oakland.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 12: Protesters block a truck from entering the Port of Oakland on December 12, 2011 in Oakland, California. Following a general strike coordinated by Occupy Oakland that closed the port on November 2 hundreds are expected to try and shut down all West Coast ports as Occupy movements in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma have joined the demonstration. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images)

    About 150 longshoremen at the Port of Oakland were sent home without pay today because of the protest at the port, according to a union spokesman.

    Craig Merrilees of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union said terminal operators at the port had asked for about 200 union members to come to work for them today but only about 50 members were able to work without disruption.

    Merrilees said the other 150 union members "ran into protesters and police officers" when they tried to report to work and felt that it wasn't safe for them to enter marine terminals.

    He said those workers stood by in a safe area for about an hour before the terminal operators decided to send them home because they agreed that it wouldn't be safe for them to work at the port today.

    "If workers feel any condition is unsafe they will stand down," Merrilees said.

    According to Merrilees, no longshoremen workers have been requested to work at the port tonight.

    He said he doesn't know how many longshoremen workers terminal operators will request for shifts at the port Tuesday.

    Many longshoremen work on a day-to-day basis and terminal operators often don't request them until a few hours before a shift begins, Merrilees said.

    Hundreds of protesters are marching from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the Port of Oakland as part of a daylong effort to shut down the port.

    Protesters began to march shortly after 4 p.m. A separate march is scheduled to depart from the West Oakland BART station at 5 p.m.

    The protest began early this morning when hundreds of protesters marched to the port and blocked several entrances.

    Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin said the protest caused "sporadic disruptions" and delays but that all terminals were open early this afternoon and traffic was flowing in and out of the port.

    Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the protest was mostly peaceful but that two people were arrested outside the port's America Terminal at 1599 Maritime St. shortly before noon for failing to comply with a police order to stop blocking a driveway.

    He said there haven't been any reports of violence associated with the protest but that there was one report of vandalism.

    Benjamin said that although operations are continuing at all seven of the port's marine terminals and its two rail terminals, the protest affected some gates and caused truck traffic to back up.

    Mid-morning, dozens of trucks were lined up outside at least two of the port's entrances as hundreds of protesters blocked drivers' paths.

    Isaac Kos-Read, the port's director of external affairs, said trucks are now moving in and out of all terminals but said the situation is "dynamic."

    Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the protest has been peaceful and said, "We're trying to keep the port and businesses open with a minimum of disruption."

    The marches are part of a West Coast port blockade today organized by the Occupy movement that is taking place in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.