Union Reps Voice Concern for Port of Oakland Workers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Jeffrey Schaub
March 15, 2020 - 9:15 am
Port of Oakland

Port of Oakland (Photo credit: Barbara Lee)

Representatives for longshoremen and other dockworkers at the Port of Oakland say they’re not being properly protected from contracting the coronavirus

Nearly every day, several cargo ships arrive to or depart from the port, with unionized port workers tasked with loading and unloading those ships. It is the same port the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship has been docked at since March 9.

Trent Willis is the President of Local 10 — the international longshoremen and warehouse union — which represents the workers who load and unload those ships. He claims his workers aren't being properly protected from coronavirus.

“We could possibly have a longshore worker who’s infected, get in a machine and then another longshore workers gets in the machine after him, then becomes infected,” Willis told KCBS Radio. 

He claims the port and shipping companies that lease the docks the union workers are employed by aren’t doing enough. 

Mike Zampa — Communications Director at the port — says it’s their tenants, the shipping companies, who are responsible.

“We work closely with our tenants, the marine terminal operators,” Zampa said. “But it is up to them to establish the policies and the protocols and the procedures for health, safety, cleanliness and the like.”

Nonetheless, Zampa says the port will reach out to the shipping companies to make sure they’re doing what’s appropriate.

Related: Concerns Arise for Grand Princess Cruise Ship Passengers