Monday is the big day where supporters of the Occupy movement are aiming to shut down the ports of up to 23 cities American cities, including ours.
Portland's own group held a brief press conference this morning about their plans for the wee morning hours at the Port of Portland. I condensed the essentials into these details.
Why try to shut down the port?
One reason voiced at this morning's press conference is that ports are the "production and distribution of the 1%." Basically, the protesters want to show that large crowd of regular people can shut down major business operations. A related reason is to protest of America's free trade policies and NAFTA, since imports and exports reach and leave Oregon via the port.
How are protesters going to shut it down?
The plan is to meet at Kelley Point Park in far, far North Portland at 6am, hold a rally and march to picket the entrances to several port terminals for one business day. They hope that workers will decide not to cross the picket lines. However, Kelley Point Park is only reachable by two roads, so it's likely police could blockade those roads and stop the meet-up. Protest organizers say they do have a contingency plan in that case, though they're mum on what it would be.
Are the actual port workers joining the protest?
While two rank-and-file members of local unions voiced their support for the shutdown at the press conference, the big unions at the port are officially not giving their support. Today, a labor source acknowledged it's very likely that several individual union members, especially those who are sympathetic to Occupy and working heavily with the movement, will join the shutdown. Workers may be eligible to take sick time or personal leave off on Monday, for example.
Behind the scenes, some union leaders are expressing reservations about the timing of and message behind the shutdown. For instance, the action may wind up targeting an export shipment from an Oregon business, and not an import. "The problem with the port shutdown is that people are hurting people who will lose a day's work," the source said, though we haven't confirmed what exactly is being shipped at the port on Monday.