Occupy Oakland Shut Down a Port Already Struggling for Survival
November 4, 2011 by Buck Sexton
The Occupiers say they represent the 99%, but when they shut down the Port of Oakland for a day, it was their fellow “ninety-niners” that got the shaft.
There are reports that estimate 11,000 workers lost wages and $4 million dollars in revenue went down the tubes due to the Occupy Oakland shutdown on Wednesday.
While Oakland’s Port may be considered the fifth largest in the U.S., that doesn’t mean business is thriving there, workers are happy and fat cat managers are walking around counting wads of money– not by a long shot.
In fact, the Occupiers really just shut down an embattled, faltering commercial hub that is a source of badly needed jobs in financially embattled Oakland.
Originally, Oakland was called the “Athens of the Pacific” as a complement. Sadly, the name has never been more apt than today, as both cities struggle with nanny-state rioters and impotent leadership.
Despite all that, in a statement released on its website the day before the shutdown, the Port expressed sympathy and even some solidarity with the protestors who planned to shut them down. This was perhaps in part to garner some goodwill from the gathering protest hordes and avoid violence.
More importantly, though, the Port laid out some basic facts that have gone essentially unreported in the media, and should make those who support Occupy take a long, hard look at the long-term goals of the “99%” movement.
According to its website, the Port of Oakland’s current situation is as follows:
•We have over $1.4 billion in debt and annual debt service payments of over $100 million a year for the foreseeable future, constraining the jobs we can create and investments we can make.
•Economic conditions at the Port have forced us to reduce our workforce by 40% over the last seven years.
•Air passenger volume is down over 30% since 2008.
•We are operating at just over 50% capacity at our seaport, while there is increasing competition from alternative shipping gateways around the country and the world.
So the Port of Oakland is already down on the ground, and the Occupiers decided to kick it anyway.
The Occupiers forced lost wages and productivity for a day in order to make it clear to the country that they are willing to halt stage even more damaging “general strikes” across the country.
Occupy is becoming more about blackmail than protest.
Even the Port organizers, sympathetic to Occupiers the way a hostage must be to his hostage-taker, expressed some concern about the impact on the community. Port management told reporters yesterday that:
“Any additional missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region.”
It’s a good thing that the protestors stopped, but just in case the Occupiers weren’t aware of what their “general strike” would really mean for the Oakland community, or any other for that matter, the Port management also said that:
“Continued disruptions will begin to lead to re-routing of cargo and permanent loss of jobs, a situation that would only exacerbate the on-going economic challenges of our region.”
The Port has apparently resumed normal business as of yesterday. But there is clearly a trend with the Occupiers here. The businesses hurt by the Occupy movement, including the jobs and wages lost directly due to the protests, are overwhelmingly working and middle class. And nobody in Occupy seems to care.
As for the Port of Oakland, it seems very plausible that workers would have been better served receiving a day’s pay than being forced to stay home or walk in circles with a placard.
Over the course of one week, Occupy Oakland showed the world that they are willing to take money out of the hands of Port workers by day, and cause riots and destruction in their city at night.
This all forces us to ask the question: How does any of the mayhem in Oakland teach the “Banksters” on Wall Street a lesson in economics or social justice?.