Truckers’ Voice

| August 01, 2001

Bruce remembers shutting down for a week. Chris Yoder, a Missouri owner-operator, also remembers parking his truck in protest. “It was supposed to turn things around, but it didn’t,” Yoder recalls.

Another owner-operator shutdown occurred in 1978 over fuel prices, and in June 1979, a second national shutdown lasted at least two weeks. The ’79 strike resulted in a federal mandatory fuel surcharge, which Overdrive criticized as affecting only half of the independent truckers and providing too little compensation.

Paul Ace of Pennsylvania, whose Paul E. Ace Trucking was featured as Small Fleet of the Month in the December 1971 Overdrive, remembers participating in the ’79 shutdown. “I shut my truck down a couple days because people were throwing rocks off of overpasses,” Ace recalls. It was often unclear who was behind the violence or why.

Retired owner-operator John Parkinson Jr. of Pennsylvania recalls steel-hauling owner-operators rebelling in 1967. The steel haulers were Teamsters but formed their own group, the Fraternal Association of Steel Haulers, and won better conditions. Parkinson, who was a FASH zone leader, says the strike protested unreasonable wait times, unfair treatment and other issues. “We were shut down for over two months,” Parkinson says. “I almost lost everything I had.” Parkinson, who had owned two trucks and two trailers, found himself blacklisted and spent years as a company driver before buying a truck in again in 1981.

A second FASH strike ensued in 1969. According to published reports, both the Teamsters and FASH members had guns and weapons, and it was more violent than the first strike.

Other Overdrive editorials and stories ran from serious examinations of problems to humorous contests, such as the “Filthiest Truck Stop of the Month.”

The activism of the ’60s and ’70s was largely replaced by more substantive changes in the ’80s and ’90s, and Overdrive remained on top of developments.

The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 effectively deregulated the trucking industry, a change that Overdrive had advocated for decades. Two years later, the federal Surface Transportation Act set uniform weight and length laws throughout the United States. Before the ’80s ended, Congress established national requirements for licensing commercial drivers.

More recently, federal officials proposed broad changes to the 60-year-old hours-of-service rule. The magazine’s extensive coverage of the negative impact of the federal plan won an award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Owner-operator outcry over these and other issues has been closely followed in Overdrive, says Editor Linda Longton. “Overdrive has led trucker causes since it began in 1961,” Longton says. “And it will continue to herald owner-operator issues.”

Overdrive will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a cross-country tour beginning Aug. 5 and concluding at the Great American Trucking Show, Sept. 7-9, in Dallas. See pages 32 and 36 for a schedule, a list of prizes and other details.

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