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Oakland seaport, airport workers set to return

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Custodial and maintenance workers at Oakland International Airport and at one of the nation's busiest seaports were set to end their picketing and return to work late Tuesday and early Wednesday after a one-day strike, officials said.

Airport employees were scheduled to be back at work for the beginning of a 10 p.m. Tuesday shift, said Port of Oakland spokesman Isaac Kos-Read.

The seaport doesn't operate overnight, so workers scheduled to begin a 2 a.m. Wednesday shift would be the first port workers back on the job, Kos-Read said.

The 24-hour protest was over stalled contract talks between port officials and the Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

Union officials didn't immediately return calls late Tuesday, but a message posted on the union's website by SEIU Local 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez said both sides would be returning immediately to the bargaining table.

During the strike, workers outside the port blocked trucks from picking up and delivering goods on what had been expected to be a busy day before the holidays.

Kos-Read said "numerous" trucks were stopped from entering the port and that there were "major issues in terms of blockages." He declined to elaborate.

On Tuesday, ships waited at six of the seven terminals at the Port of Oakland, as intermittent rain soaked hundreds of angry workers who carried signs and blocked entrances during the protest.

Passing motorists blared horns and supporters pounded drums as strikers chanted, "Shut it down. We're a union town!"

"We're letting management and the public know that they can't treat us like that," Lynn Riordan, a communications staffer for the union, said earlier Tuesday.

Across town, dozens of additional service union members picketed at Oakland International Airport after walking off their jobs late Monday. Those employees are covered under the same contract as port workers.

No flights were affected, Kos-Read said.

By midday, union officials said that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan had stepped in to bring the parties back to table to continue contract talks.

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