Occupy protesters block West Coast ports

Dec. 12, 2011 at 5:03 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Occupy movement protesters succeeded in disrupting some port operations up and down the U.S. West Coast Monday, authorities said.

About 200 protesters blocked an entrance at the port in Long Beach, Calif., for about a half hour before police took a couple of them into custody and shepherded the rest to a nearby parking lot, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Earlier, the protesters picketed in front of SSA Marine, a shipping company partially owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs, the newspaper said.

Port spokesman John Pope said the rally had minimal effect on operations.

At the port in Oakland, Calif., a union spokesman said a couple hundred protesters blocked intersections, forcing an end to the day's work for about 150 longshoremen, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Almost half the port's berths were shut down by the anti-Wall Street demonstrators, some of whom carried placards declaring, "Shutdown Wall St. on the Waterfront," the newspaper said.

"There have been disruptions, there have been distractions, but we are not shut down," port spokesman Isaac Kos-Read said.

The port blockage didn't sit well with some of the affected workers. One trucker blew his air horn and tried to drive through the crowd and another, Mark Hebert, 47, said the action "pisses me off."

"I am losing money. I don't get paid when I am just sitting here," Hebert told the Chronicle. "I've got a truck payment, and insurance payment just like everyone else. "

A 44-year-old longshoreman identified only as "Tim," acknowledged the protesters "have some legitimate points and what not, but we are part of the 99 percent and they are stopping us from coming to work."

"The 1 percent's cargo doesn't come in here. The caviar comes in from Russia first class, not on a slow boat from China," he said.

Occupy Portland protesters rallied at the Port of Portland in Oregon, looking to disrupt arriving and departing ships, a port spokesman said.

The protesters, however, had not won dockworker labor support, a union chief told The (Portland) Oregonian.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said it generally supports the Occupy movement but opposes the blockade because the movement appears to be trying to appropriate union issues.

"Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another," ILWU President Robert McEllrath wrote in a letter to local union branches.

ILWU locals in San Diego; Los Angeles; Oakland; Portland; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska, said they would not support the protest.

But the ILWU leadership in Honolulu, Hilo and Maui, Hawaii, said late Sunday its union members would not cross Occupy picket lines, the westcoastportshutdown.org Web site said.

Under ILWU contract terms, West Coast longshoremen may not support the shutdown by walking off the job as a group, but individual union members may exercise their First Amendment rights and not show up to work.

The Port of Los Angeles adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach and is the busiest U.S. container port. Long Beach is the second busiest. Together they are responsible for more than twice as much shipping-container traffic as any other U.S. port, handling nearly $300 billion in trade.

Thousands of protesters shut down the Port of Oakland Nov. 2 after marching through downtown Oakland in a general strike.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said two dozen Occupy Pittsburgh supporters Monday served a mock eviction notice at BNY Mellon headquarters.

The newspaper said the banking giant responded by filing an injunction in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court asking a judge for permission to remove the protesters from the bank's Mellon Green park.

BNY Mellon had ordered the protesters to leave the park by noon Saturday. Protesters, however, refused to budge.

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