The Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners has held off from approving a deal with SSA to give up Howard Terminal for nearly two weeks. In that time, opposition to the plan has only getting more fierce. First was the ILWU (longshoremen) objecting to the deal on the grounds that it would cost jobs. Now it’s another terminal operator at the Port named Ports America (PAOHT) who is not on board, claiming that the deal would give SSA an unfair, sweetheart deal over PAOHT. Ports America is threatening to sue the Port of Oakland if SSA’s deal to close Howard Terminal and consolidate operations for SSA is approved.
Remember that the Port was motivated to make the deal in order to settle an existing lawsuit by SSA. So we have a situation where settling one lawsuit brings on one or two more? Brilliant.
Obviously, all of the parties are acting in their own self-interest. Ports America wants to preserve its own sweetheart deal relative to SSA, and SSA’s new lease either matches or leapfrogs PAOHT depending on how you look at it. The union is trying to save jobs, even if it means having the Port run in an arguably less efficient, less competitive way.
Yesterday, a group of ILWU workers picketed outside the APL terminal at the Port’s Middle Harbor, protesting the settlement in the process.
You know what I’d like to see? A summit involving the Port, Clorox CEO Don Knauss plus the good folks at Baseball Oakland and Save Oakland Sports, and the ILWU, SSA and Ports America. I’m sure that if you just got them all in a room they could easily hash out their differences and resolve everything quickly. Because Oakland is the epitome of efficient, well-run government, right?
Frankly, the Port should approve the deal tomorrow and move forward. They can’t bow to one ransom demand after another. It needs to stop at some point. The issue for the Port and City is that this happens not infrequently, and legal structures are in place to let it continue. And if there is a lawsuit by Ports America or the ILWU, no one from San Jose should gloat. South Bay fans have seen what it’s like to have a frivolous lawsuit act as a guise for anticompetitive behavior. No one, whether from San Jose or Oakland, should be happy about that, whenever or however it happens. If you are, well then screw you.