Jeremy Hobson: We’ll start up the California coast in Oakland, where one of the nation’s busiest ports has been shut down protesters. At this hour, police are using tear gas to disperse the demonstrators from a plaza that’s been the base for Occupy Oakland.
For more on all this, we’re joined by LA Times reporter Lee Romney, who’s been covering the protests over the last 24 hours. Good morning.
Lee Romney: Good morning.
Hobson: So what’s the latest right now — what’s the status of the Port of Oakland?
Romney: The Port of Oakland opted earlier this evening to cancel their night shift of workers. So there are still protesters down there who are trying to prevent longshoremen from coming to work on the next shift, which will be either 3 am or 6 am — nobody’s quite sure exactly. The port has not really said when they will try to send folks back in.
But demonstrators declared a victory earlier tonight when the port effectively said maritime operations are shut down, and that evening shift workers would not be attempting to enter.
Hobson: And what did the protesters tell you about the reasons for going and trying to shut down the Port of Oakland. I saw the port released a statement and said, “look, we’re the 99 percent!”
Romney: Yeah. I think that because it is such an economic engine — it’s the fifth largest port in the country, it does about an average of $8.5 million in business a day — for some it symbolized wealth or capitalism. I think those are the more extreme folks.
Also, the union has a contract clause that’s very rare for a union that allows them to honor a community picket line under certain circumstances. And there’s some speculation that they chose the port because that union has that clause, and so they thought it might be easier to shut it down — whereas other unions have no strike clauses in their contracts.
Hobson: Lee Romney, LA Times reporter joining us from Oakland, thanks so much.
Romney: Thank you.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.