Occupy Vote Is Economic Violence: Jean Quan

Protesters vote to continue port blockade.

Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011  |  Updated 8:59 AM PDT
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Hundreds of

Hundreds of "Occupy" protesters blocked the entrance to the busy Port of Oakland after a march from downtown earlier this evening. NBC Bay Area's Elyce Kirchner reports from the ongoing demonstration in Oakland.

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Protesters voted to extend a blockade at the Port of Oakland through early Tuesday morning at Monday night's general assembly meeting.

More than 100 dock workers were turned away Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. when their shifts were cancelled over safety concerns.

All shifts were ordered back on by 7 a.m., according to the Oakland Port.

"These disruptions cost workers shifts and wages, delaying and reducing paychecks," Robert Bernardo, the port's communications manager, said in a statement. "They also cost the port and City of Oakland vital resources. They hurt the many businesses that pay taxes and help us create jobs. These disruptions also distracted us from the productive work we need to be focused on to create more jobs and economic opportunities for the region."
   
Mayor Jean Quan echoed those sentiments in a press conference late Monday night. She said this action was "economic violence" and not fair to port workers or the community.
      
"I want to thank everyone for being peaceful today...but after the unofficial vote of the general assembly to continue the economic punishment of the Port of Oakland, I just have to say this -- while we have not had physical violence, the economic violence to this city is not fair."

Perhaps hearing Quan's words or simply getting tired, a group of protesters left the picket line at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

"The labor community has already said they do not support this and still a small group of people are going to hold this port, this city, this community hostage," Quan said.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said no violence or arrests were reported Monday night and police would continue to monitor the situation and will take action if needed.

Monday night's demonstration was part of a daylong effort to shutdown ports on the West Coast

One of the reasons for the demonstrations was to stand in solidarity with International Longshore and Warehouse Union members in a labor dispute with grain exporter EGT in Longview, Wash. and with truck drivers in Los Angeles, who are classified as independent contractors and do not receive benefits.

Protesters Monday evening said that Dan Coffman, president of ILWU Local 21 in Longview had called with a message for the demonstrators. A speaker at the meeting repeated his message to the crowd.

"This is the rebirth of the labor movement," he said. "ILWU in Longview, Washington wants to thank all of the Occupiers on the West Coast for standing in solidarity."

Port officials said it was getting back to work Tuesday in part because there was such a back log of work that needed to be done. It expected operations to be operating normally.

Bay City  News contributed to this report.

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