Mission accomplished yesterday as the Occupy movement successfully shut down three West Coast ports! Nice work… and the milestones will only get bigger from here on in.
Given that port workers will immediately feel the impact of the temporary disruption, one might wonder how they feel about the mass protests. So let’s hear what they have to say!
In a compelling open letter written on behalf of workers from the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey, the elected commission had this to say:
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.
The authors went on to explain their reasons for supporting a people’s uprising, stemming mostly from their own low pay and exploitative work conditions:
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 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.
In closing, the port trucker’s reiterate how, at the very core of their problems lies the same motivation behind the entire occupy movement:
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 are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us.
The world is finally awakening to see the position we have been pushed into, step by step, by an overbearing ruling class seeking to deepen their own pockets at the expense of the rest of the population. No more! The winds of change are blowing. Soon, the giant house of cards will come crashing down, and from the rubble will emerge a more just civilization.