‘Truckers to Shut Down America’ viral meme keeps moving

| September 24, 2013

In what seems to have started with a Facebook page launched by Florida resident Zeeda Andrews (aka Zeeda Hutton), a self-described “former country singer” with little connection to trucking other than long past truck-stop performances, an October 11-13 nationwide shutdown and concurrent convoy to the nation’s capitol drifted toward what could be called a mini semblance of organization over this past weekend.

Andrews appeared Saturday, Sept. 21, on an online radio show hosted by online radio host Pete Santilli at the site of the “Guerilla Media Network.” Santilli is the owner of the Ride for the Constitution.org site, which claims to be a central place for information on the Oct. 11-13 events, and his Guerilla Media site is now playing host to a daily online radio show hosted by Andrews centered around the notion of a driver shutdown. (The “Truckers to Shutdown America” Facebook page that launched the meme was either shut down itself or removed between Saturday and today; rumors that it was pulled by Facebook and not deleted by the owners were unable to be confirmed. A new page has popped up in the interim here.

Overdrive‘s attempts to contact Andrews directly went unresponded to before the first version of this story appeared on September 24. Andrews posted in commentary under the story developments to a list of demands she was putting together (also posted to the newer Truckers Ride for the Constitution Facebook page). As of this writing, they were largely centered on efforts to roll back various perceived regulatory and business encroachments on trucking business viability, including:

1) Environmental regulations “forcing the industry to put unproven technology in new trucks just to reduce emissions.” 

2) Federal allowance of “states, municipalities and businesses to pass anti-idling laws” making federally mandated rest ever more difficult to achieve in-cab.

3) Insurance companies not covering “trucking companies that don’t install in their trucks expensive logging software, GPS, and communications devices … thereby pushing independent truck drivers out of business because they can’t compete.” 

4) Attempts to “push legislation through that requires the independents to carry $1 million bond in addition to the insurance.”

5) The Affordable Care Act’s potential ripple effects “causing trucking companies to keep drivers’ hours below 30 hours … as they can’t afford the insurance increases.”

On Santilli’s show over the weekend, in addition to an ongoing concern over fuel prices, Andrews claimed a broad goal of “restoring our Constitution” for any shutdown or action. “The people that can’t get out there” for a convoy to D.C. on October 11, Andrews said, “can simply do nothing. Prepare yourself for it – no commerce, no banking, no shopping. Enjoy your family that day. We’ll encourage everybody to assemble peacefully” wherever they are, she added. 

A flyer hosted at RidefortheConstitution.org directs readers back to another site owned by online talk show host Pete Santilli -- text of the flyer begins with "Independent Truckers of America are essentially operating on slave wages..." Click through the image to read the text in full. For a decade, though income has been somewhat stagnant measured against inflation, average take-home for owner-operators in the United States has tracked around or above $50,000 yearly in Overdrive's surveys, and recent ATBS client data showed an overall $52/year average.

A flyer hosted at RidefortheConstitution.org directs readers back to another site owned by online talk show host Pete Santilli — text of the flyer begins with “Independent Truckers of America are essentially operating on slave wages…” Click through the image to read the text in full. For a decade, though income has been somewhat stagnant measured against inflation, average take-home for owner-operators in the United States has tracked around or above $50,000 yearly in Overdrive’s surveys, and recent ATBS client data showed an overall $52K/year average, hardly “slave wages.”

Callers into the Saturday edition of the show, including owner-operator William McKelvie, stressed that any action taken in the name of truckers needed to stress real-world trucking issues — from problems stemming from the new hours of service to CSA’s crash accountability problem and, generally, over-regulation and overreach by Anne Ferro’s FMCSA — not just broad concerns with generalized misdirection in government. “Our concern is that our issues will not be heard,” McKelvie noted.

Commenters far and wide around the web from the trucking community reflected such sentiment, if not objecting to the notion of a shutdown or “general strike” categorically. Many were keenly interested in the idea: Overdrive has seen numerous queries as to the validity of the called-for action since it started making its way around the web last week. 

For the first time this weekend, Andrews, with Santilli, named a date and place for the start  of a convoy, mentioning a planned rally Oct. 10 at the TravelCenters of America location on Lewiston Rd. in Ashland, Va. Prior to that, no mention of logistical details had been made, and little else emerged from nearly three hours of discussion Saturday on Santilli’s show. As Land Line writer Jami Jones put it in her dissection of the issues here, “the details of when and where are sketchy. No idea if permits have been applied for or if the group even understands the logistical nightmare of getting a tractor-trailer combination into the Washington, D.C., area. Much less near the Capitol or White House.”

Efforts are being made, however. A call placed to the mentioned TA location from an organizer had been made days ago, store manager Jay Farley said the morning of September 24. He referred the caller to TravelCenters of America’s corporate office. TA’s Tom Liutkus told Overdrive this morning that no rally will be hosted at the Ashland location on October 10 and that organizers would have to look for another, more public location to assemble. 

Also over the weekend, the Huffington Post ran this item on the virality of the former “Truckers to Shut Down America” Facebook page, which at its height had generated more than 77,000 likes in the course of just several days. In the Huffington Post piece, Sean McNally of the American Trucking Associations disavowed any rumored association of his organization with the shutdown effort. Andrews had quoted the ATA’s 2006 “When Trucks Stop, America Stops” white paper on what would happen if an act of terrorism or other emergency shut down the trucking industry.

That paper also inspired in part this fictional story — about a government-mandated emergency shutdown — which first appeared in Truckers News in the year 2008. 

 

The numerous owner-operator shutdowns of the 1970s were mentioned in historical context in this “Breaking Free” feature on owner-operator business history in our 2011 50th anniversary issue

  • MDHAGAN

    Come on guys the industry is what it is because of a variety of factors. I too was an O/O working for a broker and nearly lost everything in the beginning of my career or the first seven years it took me to learn how to chase the money rather than the miles. That being said we will all just have to agree that whether it is the worst it has ever been depends on your particular situation. From my POV we do have a serious problem with over-regulation. The CSA seems to have been written to destroy O/O and small fleets and there is no doubt in my mind that is the intention of the lobbyists and mega companies that back them. If safety was truly the concern of regulators much more attention would be directed at shippers and receivers. The bottom line is when you chase everyone with a brain out of a truck because of low wages and very little home time you get low skilled unintelligent people who still find the industry attractive due to lack of opportunity elsewhere that is not how to make our roads safe. 30 years ago a good O/O could rebuild an diesel engine. Now days even if you don’t know how to adjust a slack adjuster you can become an O/O with less than a year experience if your dumb enough to sign the contract.

  • Pete Brunner

    all i got to say is we all need to be on the same page. in 1990 when i started i was getting .32 per mile. now in 2013 23 years later there are companys out there that still wanna pay .32 per mile. the 168 hos rule is a joke if you run all week and drop on friday and dont reload you sit for the week-end then monday start your 34. how much rest does a person need? who sleeps 10hrs or stays in bed that long? idle laws as well i got a ticket for idling in ny it was 15 deg out. cop dident wanna hear or see anything i had to prove to him the the law says below 25. theres lots more i could get into.
    point being name calling and fighting with ourselves isint gonna help things theres 4 million of us out here if we all stick together we are a big voice the will be heard.

  • Pingback: General Streik – General strike – Trucker nach D.C. 11-13. Oktober 2013 | Schramme Journal

  • Penelope Townsend

    Oh yea you guys are really interested in us truckers, going by your exchangers.

  • Pingback: Purpose of the Truckers To Shut Down America site | Truckers To Shut Down America

  • roadrunner

    if you don’t know anything about really ever be or ever driving semi truck ever you should keep your thoughs or idea to your self let some one who has been there an been driving for real last 30 years over road with no tickets or wrecks or log issue at all talk say whats what an some one who knows not what there talking about at all your just like some one trying tell airline polit or ship caption how fly an run drive there boat on oceans , an guy setting in white house is no way us citizen or America at all or would not be driving this get county all are fathers ,uncles , brother dried for to protect are fredoms an way great life we have here so stop protecting these fool an way out idea roadrunner

  • Red Dog

    Who is Miss Information?

  • http://answers.yahoo.com/ Lime Kitty

    What is an “airline polit” or a “ship caption?” Want to try that again in English, pal?

    And I’m glad your “fathers ,uncles , brother dried for to protect are fredoms.” I’d hate for them to protect “fredom” while wet.

    I’m a veteran also, so no need to try and throw that badly spelled card in my face.

  • Fake Cliff Mass

    So, most freight ‘shuts down’ on weekends anyway, what’s the point of actually effecting a ‘shutdown’ of the economy when it takes, wait for it, fuel to drive somewhere that you’re not being reimbursed for. Not a fan of knee jerk movements that some rich talk show host thought of to get working stiffs to do all the pick and shovel work.

  • http://answers.yahoo.com/ Lime Kitty

    Oh, look, Zeeda. The mainstream news realized you are a bunch of frauds. http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/truckers-protest-convoy-or-con-98008.html?hp=r7

  • http://answers.yahoo.com/ Lime Kitty

    Here’s a recent link. The more mainstream this “protest” goes, the more the press is confirming what I said here three weeks ago.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/truckers-protest-convoy-or-con-98008.html?hp=r7

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  • Franklin Bacon

    It is always interesting that one of the complaints about the USSR was that the power was concentrated in the upper echelons of the Politburo. Now that there is no longer a USSR, the USA has begun to act just like that, with extreme power concentrated in the halls of Congress. These are who profits from the toil of the common man, but the common man does not make enough to sustain a reasonable standard of living.

  • Franklin Bacon

    I am quite ignorant here, but your issue makes me wonder why truckers do not form co-op brokerage groups. If you were the brokers, outside interests would not be able to take advantage of you.

  • Franklin Bacon

    Form worker co-ops and be your own boss. Worker Self-Directed Enterprise (WSDE) is the only way you will gain control over your own destiny.

  • http://answers.yahoo.com/ Lime Kitty

    Hey, Zeeda….seems like you are missing a few thousand trucks. Still want to go on about how much support you have and how wrong I am about the feelings of the American people?

  • Jon McLaughlin

    One of the regulations just imposed on the trucking industry increased the bond that has to be posted from 5K to 75K. We would have to compete with the same freight brokers that are ripping us off by keeping as much as 70% of what they charge to the shippers. We would need office staff to seek out loads from shippers and act as dispatchers also. The whole process is very involved. And we would have to start out on a shoe string.

  • Don_in_Odessa

    Really is too bad about the truckers strike. Originally supposed to be that the truckers would just not haul for three days. Some how it got whipped up into a truckers to DC thing. Don’t know many truckers that could afford the fuel to DC and then drive around the Beltway for three days on top of that.
    Need to try this again without the Pete Santilli grandstand. Just stop hauling for a given amount of time. That’s all that needs to be done.

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