Protesters Try to Tie-Up West Coast Ports

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators tried but failed to cause the large-scale immobilization of commerce they had sought by demonstrating at West Coast ports on Monday December 12th. According to a Reuters report, protesters managed to close several terminals and at times clashed with police but fell short of mounting the full-scale cargo blockade they had promised.

Maritime operations at the Port of Oakland were shut down briefly last month as a result of “Occupy Oakland” protesters, but resumed when it was deemed safe for port employees. However, during Monday's protests, the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents 15,000 dockworkers, issued a statement reading "A third-party proposal to shut down terminals on Dec. 12 has not been vetted by the union's democratic process.” The union did, however, cite a provision in its contract allowing workers to ask to stay off the job if they felt conditions were unsafe.

Protesters did succeed in disrupting arrivals of trucks and dockworkers at some waterfronts, effectively closing three terminals in Portland, Oregon, and another in Seattle.

An Investor’s Business Daily blog post noted that the protesters are hurting the people they profess to represent. “It's always the workers who get burned—not just longshoremen, but truck drivers, security officers, highway construction workers, manufacturing workers, shopkeepers—some 300,000 jobs in all,” the IBD blog stated. It also quoted Long Beach port spokesman Lee Peterson as saying "The 99%—they work here at the port," referring to the 99% of U.S. taxpayers whose voice the protesters claim to amplify.

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