Are Trucker Strikes A Thing Of The Past?

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DaveW's Comment
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America's 1.8 million truck drivers haul some 71 percent of this country's freight, amounting to an $800 billion dollar chunk of the economy. So, the question remains: Why don't truck drivers wield this supposed influence and strike nationally, ending their grievances and bettering their situation?

Are trucker strikes a thing of the past?

Michael B.'s Comment
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My guess is that very few truckers are union workers anymore.

Joseph L.'s Comment
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Okay I will take a shot at answering this question, for the record I have no doubt there are people way more experience and knowledgeable to better answer it. Okay the first and biggest hurdle is getting enough people on board with a strike to have any serious impact.

I am sorry but there is no way 1.8 million drivers will ever be on the same page. Second. As one articles pointed out, union membership involving truck drivers has seriously declined. For a lot of professional drivers both owner operator and company drivers, they simply can't afford to strike because of the cost and untold potential hardships it would cost their families. 3) okay I am going on my second year as a driver and I am with my second company, which brings me to my third argument.

I think a strike could actually do a lot of harm to smaller companies. I believe that there are a lot of companies that really have the best interest of their drivers in mind and actually try to pay them a decent wage. I think loyalty to these companies would also impact any strike. 4) public support this one is really a two-edge sword. Generally speaking the general public doesn't a very high opinion of truck drivers. so getting public support is going to be a major hurdle.

Okay let's say by an act of God we could rally public support for a trucker strike. It will be short lived. Once produce and other items people use in their day to day lives begin to disappear from the shelves, public support will evaporate in the blink of an eye. When riots, looting and price gauging result because of supplies shortages, truck drivers will become public enemy #1 That is my two cents, well 1 and half cents, I'm poor the government taxes me on the 0ther half

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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That was a great article. Without someone to organize drivers you will not have strikes. It really is that simple. Any group must have organizers.

My favorite part was this:

Rick Blatter, a spokesperson for the Canadian Truckers Association, summed up the situation to Business Insider.

"Truck strikes don't always work because organizing independent truckers is like organizing anarchists."

It's true. Truckers are often Type A personalities who value their independence and freedom. By nature, they don't like to do things their way.

I've often wondered what future generations of drivers will be like. I think you'll still have many who see trucking as I did; a romantic lifestyle where they're free to travel the country without anyone looking over their shoulder, doing things their way, and seeing this vast and beautiful country.

Yet our modern society isn't the same as it used to be. Rebels and outlaws aren't revered anymore. James Dean, The Dukes Of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit, and Convoy aren't the types that become cultural heroes in modern society. Quite honestly, I don't know who does. ( Justin Bieber? God help us. )

We also don't have the outlaw culture in trucking anymore. If people today knew how we did things back in the day they would be shocked, and that was nothing compared to the way things were done before my generation took to the highways.

What will make future generations want to become truck drivers? I'm really not sure. There are obvious benefits - beautiful trucks, the traveling lifestyle, really good wages, and the desire to see this Great Land. Those things haven't changed over the years. But I'd like to see trucking earn its rightful place as a highly-respected profession in our society. It hasn't been that since the '50s and '60s I'd say. I haven't been alive long enough to have witnessed the days when truckers were truly respected. I'm hoping to see that happen someday.

I know Trucking Truth has helped cultivate a higher level of professionalism for drivers and a more respectful view of the major players in the industry. Unfortunately, we're still fighting our way upstream with our sentiments, but I'm hoping that sentiment continues to grow.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
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Okay let's say by an act of God we could rally public support for a trucker strike. It will be short-lived. Once produce and other items people use in their day to day lives begin to disappear from the shelves, public support will evaporate in the blink of an eye. When riots, looting and price gauging result because of supplies shortages, truck drivers will become public enemy #1

That's an excellent point. Even if the public took the trucker's side and felt we deserved more, their support would fade once their lives were significantly impacted. They'd like to see us rally to make our lives better, but not at their expense.

Not only that, but they would realize that the more we make the higher the cost of goods will be. They'd like to see us make more, but not if it comes out of their pockets.

The public would be a tough sell.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Rob T.'s Comment
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I would assume a majority of the unions in trucking now are local drivers, LTL or food/beverage. The food/beverage is very hard work but many of those guys make great money and love the physical side of it so they feel they have no reason to strike. If they did i doubt it would do anything to help an OTR driver. With so many O/O struggling it wouldn't take long at all for a broker to offer $2 a mile(made up a number I dont know the going rate) and many would gladly run that load.

Once produce and other items people use in their day to day lives begin to disappear from the shelves, public support will evaporate in the blink of an eye.

And once their prices increase. For the chain I work for that would happen in 2 to 4 days depending on the location of the store. Most of our stores get our deliveries (meat and dairy) 4 days a week, with most Minneapolis stores getting delivery 6 days and rural Iowa getting maybe twice a week. Back in the spring when the flooding in Nebraska was going on store shelves were completely empty to the point national guard and Nebraska highway patrol escorted 9 of our chains trucks, along with vendors and fuel trucks so people could survive. They did a news story on it and captured many people coming up and shaking the hands of the drivers and thanking them, not something you see or hear often. Now imagine how different that scenario would be if their shelves ran empty due to us striking. We likely would have still needed an escort but for much different reasons.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
DaveW's Comment
member avatar

Back when I was on Gordon's NCA fleet I was told that Gordon had 100 trucks a day running from Central Valley DCs down into the LA Basin. Heck, on one single memorable Sunday I made four trips across the Grapevine.

Another time I subbed for a dedicated driver on his route from the Tracy Costco DC to the Riverside Costco store. Every day for a week I delivered nothing but toilet paper to that Costco. Every single day!

I believe the threat of an economic standstill if truckers strike is very real, the economy would collapse and rioters in the streets would make Antifa look like kindergartners.

But I agree with the many comments here that public sympathy and support for the striking truckers would probably not last past the second day. I mean, Riverside would run out of toilet paper within 24 hours. That's brutal.

Also, like Brett says, the very characteristics that draw drivers to the lonely, relatively independent life on the road are the same ones that would make them not be drawn to organizing.

Others have made many good points here on this topic.

Errol V.'s Comment
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A finer point of union strikes: if a union chooses to strike an industry, say airlines, supermarkets, or auto manufacturers, the union would select one company for their labor action.

So for example, Swift drivers would picket at their terminals and only Swift customers might suffer. Then the contract with Swift would be the model for the rest.

In reality, you won't have all 1.8 million truck drivers pull over at once.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey, that's an awesome insight, Errol. I didn't know that. It makes perfect sense to target a small portion of the market and then use that as a model for the rest of the industry. You would have trouble getting people on your side if you had a huge strike that left everyone starving and wiping their butts with leaves!

smile.gif

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

A finer point of union strikes: if a union chooses to strike an industry, say airlines, supermarkets, or auto manufacturers, the union would select one company for their labor action.

So for example, Swift drivers would picket at their terminals and only Swift customers might suffer. Then the contract with Swift would be the model for the rest.

In reality, you won't have all 1.8 million truck drivers pull over at once.

Yep. The current GM strike will set the terms for the other manufacturers

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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