Longshoremen sue over racial harassment
Four longshoremen who work at the Port of Oakland have filed suit against the Pacific Maritime Association and SSA Marine, alleging that they’re tolerating racial harassment at the port, their attorney said Monday.
San Francisco lawyer Angela Alioto said that last Nov. 9, the day after President Donald Trump was elected, several Caucasian mechanics got into a pickup truck owned by SSA Marine, which is based in Seattle, and put a confederate flag in the back and drove throughout the terminal area at the port screaming and yelling.
Alioto said none of the mechanics were reprimanded and neither the Pacific Maritime Association, which is based in San Francisco and represents shipping companies, nor SSA Marine did anything to stop them.
Alioto alleged that the PMA, which operates all longshore facilities at the Port of Oakland, has “turned the docks of Oakland into a racially hostile work environment for their employees”:
“PMA has not only refused to take the necessary steps to prevent and eliminate the racial harassment and intimidation but has affirmatively obstructed attempts to remedy the harassment.”
Alioto alleged that the PMA and SSA Marine “are well aware that the discrimination continues to this day.” The PMA and SSA Marine didn’t respond to requests Monday to comment on the suit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court last month.
The plaintiffs in the suit are John Hughes, a longshore worker at the Port of Oakland for 26 years, Rickie Cox, a longshoreman for 13 years, Keith Hamilton, a 50-year-old longshore worker at the port for 18 years, and Devin Thompson, who’s been a longshore worker for 26 years.
Alioto alleged that Hughes has encountered racial slurs as well as frequent racially offensive jokes and comments.
Alioto said Cox found a “hangman’s noose” strapped to the perimeter chain link fence and ground at SSA Marine’s terminal on Middle Road in May.
Alioto said Thompson and his family saw a hangman’s noose hanging over the side of a ship at the Port of Oakland on July 5 during a celebration of the anniversary of the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike.
Alioto said she wants to make it clear that the suit doesn’t name the Port of Oakland as a defendant.
The suit seeks unspecified general damages for the four plaintiffs for their mental pain, anguish and emotional distress.