Not thinking things through — Occupy Portland shuts down three of six terminals at the port of Portland because Occupiers have decided their message on behalf of workers is bigger than workers losing wages.

Portland news stations tonight are reporting about Occupy Portland attempting to shut down the port of Portland today.* This was part of an effort by the Occupy movement to shut down all the ports on the U.S. west coast today.

One Occupy Portland participant said on camera “this is bigger than one day’s wages”, because by shutting down the ports for one day it will hurt the 1%.

Personally, I don’t see how the damage done by this one-day shutdown will be more painful to the 1% than the loss of wages will be to the parts of the 99% who lost wages today.  There were multiple clips shown of protesters talking to news cameras, and they all seemed to believe in what they were saying — shutting down the ports will get the attention of the 1% and show them the Occupy movement is sticking around & wants some collaboration, and another protester using the word “articulate” a lot, saying that workers are articulating to protesters that for many working families one day’s wages can make a difference in being able to put food on the table or presents under the tree and workers are also articulating to protesters that this is stressful to them — but I’m still not clear how shutting down the ports actually accomplishes all that.

As one of the news anchors on Fox12 reported, according to the Port of Portland 90% of the businesses shipping through the port at small- and medium-sized companies and 12 000 jobs in the Portland metro area come from maritime shipping.

I’m sure that just means the Port of Portland and Fox12 are either part of the 1% or are in a conspiracy to work with the 1%, because there’s certainly no way it could mean the Occupy protesters just did something really dumb that hurts the people they claim to be representing more than anyone else.

The article I linked at the beginning of this post mentions port operating company SSA Marine that is partly owned by Goldman Sachs, and a grain exporter EGT. Some of the EGT workers are unionized (just not the Longshoreman’s union) and some of the union workers at the port of Portland got wages for the day because the Occupy protesters made it an unsafe working environment. On the other hand some of the truck drivers stuck sitting outside the port unable to deliver weren’t paid for their lost time.

Why does sending some unionized workers home with pay, some truck drivers home without pay, and shutting down three of six ports on a not-so-big U.S. west coast port** for one day show the 1% not to mess with the Occupy Portland movement? I don’t know.

Collins’ AP article said

‘”This is a joke. What are they protesting?” said Christian Vega, who sat in his truck carrying a load of recycled paper. He said the delay was costing him $600. “It only hurts me and the other drivers.

“We have jobs and families to support and feed,” he said. “Most of them don’t.”‘

I guess Vega hadn’t seen the news clip with the protester saying “this is bigger than one day’s wages”.

On a side note, Governor Kitzhaber was also unimpressed and commented to a reporter that “a quarter of our manufacturing jobs are export dependent”, so affecting the workers at the ports runs a significant chance of hurting the 99%. (Not sure if that was a quarter of Oregon manufacturers or Portland manufacturers, link is here, if that doesn’t work check http://kptv.com/ and look for a video titled “Kitzhaber responds to Occupy protesters” dated Dec 12 2011.)

If Occupy Portland wanted to get everyone’s attention and make sure people knew they weren’t going away any time soon, I think they got their wish. But it might not be the way they were expecting.

* Article is at Fox12 KPTV’s site, if link doesn’t work look for AP article “Protesters halt operations at some western ports” by Terry Collins dated Dec 12 2011.

**I don’t have exact statistics at hand, but as of a couple years ago the Port of Portland was expecting to see a decrease in business. It’s a long way upriver compared to many other U.S. ports and part of that river passage is through a section that is too shallow for the newer bigger Pacific cargo ships. The ports in Seattle and California do more business.

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