Q&A: Inside The Port of Oakland

by Faith Collins

Port officials reported that April loaded container volume increased 1.4 percent compared to the same month last year. Export loads rose 3.6 percent, the Port said, while imports dipped 0.9 percent. Since the spread of COVID-19, it has had an effect on different ports that helps import and export goods across the waters. It is having an effect on work productivity and also on how employers and employees are unable to come together in effective work business meetings. Although, faced with the different new challenges surrounding the Covid-19, business is still moving forward.

Faith Collins: Can you introduce yourself with your name and what you do for work? And how do you know me?

Antoine Collins: Yes. My name is Antoine Collins. You are my daughter, youngest of three. I am a longshoreman for the Port of Oakland.

Faith Collins: Can you tell me about what your job involves? What does your average day look like?

Antoine Collins: I drive tractors at the Port of Oakland. We load and unload ships with containers.

Faith Collins: When did you first find out about the ship that was docked to the port?

Antoine Collins: Early March or so, I found out through the media and more information started coming in at work.

Faith Collins: And what state of mind may have been for longshoreman workers knowing there was a cruise ship with passengers who were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Antoine Collins: It was mixed emotions, just with everything that we were hearing through the media. I think it had somewhat of a mental breakdown and caused nervousness in us all, myself [included].

Faith Collins: Has there been any concern from your family members or friends due to working around this situation that could have an effect on others?

Antoine Collins: With people I know personally, questions were being asked like: “How close are you to the ship?”  and “Do you fear being affected by the virus and bringing it home?”  

Faith Collins: Since your job requires shipping goods for companies, how does COVID-19 have an effect on the business?

Antoine Collins: There’s been a drop in a volume of work. There have been ships that have been held back from coming into our Port. Covid-19 has had an effect on people’s livelihood… because the work has kind of dropped.

Faith Collins: How may the effect of COVID-19 put employees at risk and why?

Antoine Collins: It may put people at risk because if workers are affected and have family at home then it would be a concern of those people spreading it, for those who are affected by it. Also, they have to miss work which may have an effect on compensation.

Faith Collins: What was your job like before quarantine? How has work changed for you? What do you think these changes could mean for the future of your industry? Does it require fewer people coming to work?

Antoine Collins: Before quarantine started, there were more people at work than what it is like now. Recently, people have been reported due to not coming to work. During this time at my job there has been fear of the virus spreading, so people are laid back on showing up to work. Including myself, I go every once in a while, trying to maintain social distancing at the same time.

Faith Collins: What changes do you think this may have on people who do the same job as you do?

Antoine Collins: I think we’ll get back to normal but it will be a slow process to get back to where we once were. Because of awareness right now, everyone’s been extra careful.

Faith Collins: Yeah, I’m hoping things can go back to normal, too. Such as going back to school and being able to hang out with my friends. Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you.

Antoine Collins: You´re welcome, great job.