OAKLAND — Truck drivers and their supporters picketed at the Port of Oakland on Wednesday over an impending deadline to upgrade their trucks to meet clean air standards and what they said were long wait times to pick up loads.
Television news footage showed Oakland police keeping dozens of protesters away from the entrance to one of the port’s terminals in the morning. Six people were cited for creating a hazard in a roadway, but no one was arrested, according to Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson.
Port officials said operations were not disrupted.
The demonstration was organized by the Port of Oakland Truckers Association, a group of San Francisco Bay Area truck owners and contract drivers. The group was protesting a California Air Resources Board rule requiring all drivers hauling cargo at major seaports and rail yards in the state to have trucks with 2007 or newer model year engines by Jan. 1, 2014.
The truckers say the requirement is a financial burden, especially when they have already spent thousands of dollars installing new air filters to meet clean-air standards.
They want CARB to extend the deadline and make grant money available again.
The Air Resources Board said it has made more than $65 million in grants for truck upgrades available to Oakland port truckers, and more than 85 percent of truck owners have upgraded to a newer, compliant truck.
“Extending the deadline beyond Jan. 1 would essentially penalize that 85 percent who have invested in cleaner trucks,” the board said in a statement.
Trucker Tarilo Caldera, 30, of San Francisco, said his 57-year-old father, Eusebio, did not fall in that category and needed to upgrade his 1999 truck.
“My father will either lose his job or have to find a way to come up with a decent down payment so he doesn’t have a ridiculous monthly bill,” Caldera said.
The truckers, separately, are also demanding additional compensation if they have to wait longer than two hours to pick up loads.
Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said the port does not control the drivers’ wages, but has asked trucking companies and terminal operators to address their concerns in light of the higher costs they are facing to meet the air standards.
“We empathize with truckers who serve the Port of Oakland,” he said. “These are tough times for all maritime stake holders.”
But Bernardo said the port supports the standards being enforced by the California Air Resources Board, which he said have already reduced diesel particulate pollution significantly.