‘The Port is where the 99% work’

The Port of Oakland’s leadership today released this open letter to the community:

These are challenging times, with high unemployment and tremendous uncertainty in the economy. In such times, open, respectful, honest, and informed communication is essential. That is why we are writing to you today.

We understand that Occupy Oakland has voted for a general strike in Oakland tomorrow, November 2, 2011, and further plans to march to the Port of Oakland at 5 PM. We also understand that there will be participation from people who do not live and work in the City of Oakland, which is understandable given the global nature of the Occupy movement. At the same time, this is our home, and it is our responsibility to respect it and ensure that others do too.

It is our privilege, indeed our right in this country, to peacefully assemble and freely express our grievances to government. And it is our responsibility as Oaklanders to ensure that our city is a safe and peaceful place to live and work. Oakland has a long, honorable, and innovative tradition of social justice action. So it is understandable that the citizens of Oakland want to show solidarity with the worldwide movement for economic and social justice. It is also imperative that any and all expressions of protest be effective without being violent. Every individual on all sides of this event must take personal responsibility to ensure peace. Each one of us at the Port is committed to a peaceful and safe march for all involved.

As you may be aware, there are multiple layers of security governing our nation’s ports, involving our local police department, regional, and federal agencies. Since becoming aware of the proposed march to the Port, we have been engaged with our public safety and security partners at the local, regional, state, and federal levels of government. We are all emphasizing the need for a peaceful and respectful assembly and expression of free speech.

We at the Port of Oakland understand the frustrations and issues at the heart of the Occupy movement:

    We have over $1.4 billion in debt and annual debt service payments of over $100 million a year for the foreseeable future, constraining the jobs we can create and investments we can make.
    Economic conditions at the Port have forced us to reduce our workforce by 40% over the last seven years.
    Air passenger volume is down over 30% since 2008.
    We are operating at just over 50% capacity at our seaport, while there is increasing competition from alternative shipping gateways around the country and the world.

Despite these challenges, Port activity generates over 73,000 jobs in the region, and every day we work to create more jobs. From our maintenance staff, to our custodial workers, our truckers, to office workers and dock workers, the Port is where the 99% work. It is essential for the economic development of the City and region that the perception and reality of Oakland is stability, safety, and inclusion.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We hope it will contribute to the civic dialogue that the Occupy movement has initiated. For additional information about the Port, you can also find us on the Internet at www.portofoakland.com, on Twitter at portofoakland, or on Facebook.


Pamela S. Calloway, President
Omar R. Benjamin, Executive Director

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W

    “At the same time, this is our home and it is our responsibility to respect it and ensure that others do to.” Good statement, but good luck with the “ensure that others do to” part. I believe the statement from one of the Occupious non-leaders was “We are going to shut the port down.” What a great contribution to resolving the issues that OWS claims it is trying to address.

  • David

    If the Port of Oakland is so benevolent, why are their own workers calling for the strike?

  • Elwood

    @ #3

    The leadership of the ILWU (not the workers) said it is up to each individual worker to decide what he/she wants to do.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement of Freakfest ’11.

  • David

    The Taft-Hartley Act prevents unions from officially calling for a general strike in support of other workers. It also requires unions to give 60 days notice to each other and to state and federal mediation bodies before they may undertake strikes

    “Although Wednesday’s event in Oakland was not scheduled with sufficient time to permit local unions to seek strike authorizations, local union representatives said Tuesday their members were being encouraged to participate by taking the day off or joining the activities after work.” http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_19240767

  • Truthclubber

    The Port of Oakland is complicit in allowing tons of cheap, illegally copied Chinese $#!+ to enter our economy as we allow our labor to be exported to the lowest (and most polluting, etc.) bidder so as to create joblessness and poverty to replace community and solidarity throughout America.

    Shut the Port down for a day.

    Make the Man pay for a day.

    Cause the Pig to have less dividends for a day.

    We are headed for a class war like we have never seen in this country unless the 19% (top 20% – 1%) of the sheeple hiding behind their gated compounds realize that the “police state” they are lovingly trying to construct is doomed to the same bonfire and ashheap that the “welfare state” of the 60’s was tossed onto…

  • Truthclubber

    I realize it’s a bit of a non-sequiter, but I wanted to share this as an example of just how arrogantly the fascists who post on this board (Arr Arr, Hellwoody, and I’m sad to add Jonny Dubya to that list given his latest comments about this topic) are clueless about the disconnect between the have-lots and have-nones in this increasingly polarized society (where guns are plentiful and ammo is cheap — for both sides):

    From Ann Coulter, commenting on Herman (what’s my latest shuck and jive line?) Cain:

    That’s why our blacks are so much better than their blacks,” Coulter said. “To become a black Republican you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow. You have fought against probably your family members, probably your neighbors, you have thought everything out and that’s why we have very impressive blacks in our party.”

    Memo to Fascist Coulter: Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican — here, I included a link since you were too lazy to look it up:


  • Truthclubber

    My bad (it’s late for an early bird like me) — I meant non-sequitur, not non-sequiter — teaches me not to spell it as it sounds.

  • Elwood

    You boys have both been smoking a lot of dope.

    What’s next?

    Going to drink the KoolAid?

  • Jim B.

    What bullfeathers! The Port of Oakland is rife with nepotism and cronyism. There are rumors that there are Port of Oakland employees who now collect $100,000+ per year for “full time” jobs, yet these same employees moonlight at private sector jobs during work hours and therefore collect $10,000’s on the side. Such corruption and fraud is tolerated at the Port of Oakland because the auditors are either lazy or on the take themselves. Often Daddy or Mommy pulls strings to get Port jobs for junior. Mayor Jerry Brown did nothing about reforming the Port. Instead he used the Port to strike lucrative deals that benefited Brown’s pet causes. Dellums most definitely wasn’t a Port of Oakland reformer. Quan is plain clueless. So the Occupy protesters ought to demand an end to the culture of nepotism, cronyism, fraud and corruption at the Port of Oakland.

  • Elwood

    @#8 toothsucker

    “My bad (it’s late for an early bird like me) — I meant non-sequitur, not non-sequiter — teaches me not to spell it as it sounds.”

    I know you must have to get up really early to have your garbage truck in my neighborhood at 6 am.

  • John W

    Port-bound truckers are backed up due to the work slow-down. The drivers who work for companies don’t mind. They get paid no matter the delay. The independent truckers are not feeling so warm and fuzzy about the delays. They’re screwed. But, what the heck. We all need to make sacrifices on behalf of the greater good, right?

  • Rick K.

    The Port of Oakland colluded with the protestor-thugs so that most lazy Port employees could have a work-free day. Does anyone else find it ironic that ILWU workers are attacking international trade despite the fact that they owe their longshoreman jobs to international trade? Do these ILWU goons think that someone owes them a job and a paycheck even if 90% of Port traffic were to disappear permanently overnight? Other protestors demand that CALPERS divest much of its stock holdings to “re-invest in communities” yet fail to understand that CALPERS can’t deliver its lavish payouts out of thin air. Many of these protestors, including those with jobs, are living in cloud koo-koo-land, ignoring reality and dreaming of some romantic Communist utopia.

  • Elwood

    After dark, when the “peaceful protesters” (useful idiots) are all home safely tucked in their beds is when the fun begins.

    Does anyone else see the unbelievable dichotomy where the Oakland city council majority pledges their undying love for the protesters while their police force is gassing them, rounding them up and arresting them?

    Is it a requirement to be an idiot to be the mayor of Oakland or a city council member, or is it just very helpful?

  • John W

    According to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, some of the small businesses who have been impacted by Camp Quan are trying to break their leases so they can move, or at least shut down without having to still make lease payments. Those businesses should band together, get a hot shot attorney and sue both the City and any campers they can identify as potentially having money.

  • Elwood

    The mayor of Oakland is suffering from a Quandary!