OWS Occupies Ports

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Photo: Natalie Behring/2011 Getty Images

As planned, Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to occupy West Coast ports on Monday.

They did pretty well, too, affecting operations at three major ports. In Oakland, 150 workers were sent home, which effectively shut down operations at two terminals. Two terminals in Portland were shut after authorities arrested two people carrying weapons (an OWS spokesman said they were not part of the demonstration). And in Longview, Washington, workers were sent home out of concerns for their "health and safety." Some union workers, who enjoy being paid, protested the Occupation. The leadership of the International and Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opposed the planned shutdown.

Even Canadians got into the act: Demonstrators in Vancouver briefly blocked two gates at the port. (But, being Canadian, they were exceedingly polite, even in political demonstration: The protests lasted less than one and a half hours.)

On Monday evening, the OWS movement released an open letter, co-signed by five port truck drivers, supporting and explaining Occupy the Ports. The letter outlines just how awful and dangerous their job is. Especially bad is the peeing situation.

There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.