While the unions that currently represent workers at the port of Oakland are not supporting today's attempts to close west coast ports, six truck drivers involved in the Clean & Safe Ports campaign have written an open letter on today's action. Their take doesn't offer a clear yes or no to support for today's action. Rather, it asks the protesters and the media to be aware of the workers at the ports and to consider their role at the ports as well as the role of the corporations:
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.
Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?
They detail both their pride in their hard work and the abuses they face stemming from lack of environmental and safety regulations, from misclassification and more—the many ingredients that force truck drivers to pee into bottles and work for a pittance.
And they ask for help in and attention to their struggle, which they have been fighting and continue to fight, struggling to get a fraction of the attention today's Occupy protests will get:
We would rather stick together and transform our industry from within. We deserve to be fairly rewarded and valued. That is why we have united to stage convoys, park our trucks, marched on the boss, and even shut down these ports. [...]
But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here.
We drivers have a saying, “We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one.”
Struggle against corporate bad actors and the dominance of corporations in our economy and political system is desperately needed. Let's make sure the voices of workers are front and center in that struggle.