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After a slow showing early Monday morning, an estimated 400 owner-operators managed to shut down truck traffic at all three terminals at the Port of Oakland to protest California’s controversial independent contractor law, AB5.

By Monday afternoon, the SSA, TraPac and Everport terminals announced there would be no night shift hours as the protesting owner-operators were only allowing around two company trucks per hour into the terminal gates throughout the day. On average, 250 trucks an hour would flow through the terminals on a typical work day.

Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), who was in Oakland on Monday, lauded the demonstration.

“It was very impressive to see the power of social media on display at the Port of Oakland today,” Schrap told FreightWaves. “We watched the protests grow organically in a matter of a few days and brought together hundreds of individuals who feel they are being disproportionately impacted by this law.”

He said clarification is needed about how AB5 will be enforced and how to ensure owner-operators comply with the law. AB5 seeks to limit the use of independent contractors and largely classify them as employee drivers.

The HTA is a coalition of intermodal carriers serving the three major California ports, including Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland.

Oakland protestors, who own their own rigs and currently choose which loads they want to take, don’t want to work as company drivers as many would be forced to do under AB5.

By 8 a.m. PST Monday, the port drivers had successfully blocked the east and west gates at the SSA terminal in Oakland. While the terminal opened a back gate briefly to let company trucks in, owner-operators successfully blocked that access, too, forcing some company drivers to turn around and leave port property and try again Tuesday. Protestors gathered on foot to block company trucks from entering the terminals.

Kimberly Sulsar-Campos, vice president of Oakland-based Iraheta Bros. Trucking, said some owner-operators want to protest again on Tuesday. While the initial protest was planned for three days, nearly 200 port drivers decided on one day at a meeting near the port on Friday.

Iraheta Bros. was founded by a group of owner-operators who wanted to start their own trucking company, she said. The drayage company now has 20 owner-operators who oppose AB5 and want a choice about how to run their businesses.

“We have owner-operators who want to be able to choose when they want to work and don’t want to be company drivers and be told by a company when they will work and decide how much they will be paid,” Sulsar-Campos told FreightWaves.

Some California truckers who move containers in and out of the marine terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach participated in a work stoppage Wednesday to protest AB5 and urged the Oakland drivers to stage their own protest as well.

Rafael Quintero, owner of one of the oldest drayage companies that serve the Port of Oakland, attended the protest to support his 10 owner-operators. He called AB5 “an American dream killer” for thousands of minority drivers who immigrated to the U.S. with the dream of owning their own businesses.

Some protesters in Oakland held signs that said, “The 70,000+ owner-operators choose freedom over fear” and “Don’t let AB5 take our freedom.”

Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, said his members are concerned about AB5’s impact. He said WSTA members seeking legal advice have received mixed messages from attorneys about how to comply with AB5 if the law stays on the books.

Trucks entering the Port of Oakland Monday were largely driven by company drivers from California’s Central Valley. Most owner-operators were in their rigs or personal vehicles, while others stayed home and didn’t pull containers from the port to show solidarity with those protesting AB5.