Trucker calls for strike in California

I ask all truckers: Do you want to make an impact? We should strike against California. We are wet, cold and miserable due to new anti-idling laws that contain no sleeper berth exemption. The dog is freezing now and, come summer, will “cook” if I have to return to California.

I propose we refuse to enter the state with the highest fuel prices. We saw prices of $3.75 per gallon. When you only make 92 cents per mile and a fuel surcharge, you are working for welfare wages.

How would California’s lawmakers like to be forced to experience the living conditions they are imposing upon us? How many of them sleep 10 hours straight, without heat or air conditioning?

We need to boycott this state and any others that impose such harsh conditions upon us.

These are but some of the reasons the trucking industry is in such bad shape. Every day thousands of owner-operators go out of business. The time to say “enough” is now.
Sherryl Anctil
Tucson, Ariz.

” Don’t pull over unless you know absolutely that it’s the law. When you do pull over, make sure you’re in a well-lit area. An ass chewin’ is better than an ass shootin’.”
– Veteran trucker Michael Goode of Byhalia, Miss., who in his previous career as a deputy sheriff dealt with a criminal who was posing as a police officer by mounting flashing blue lights on his car. Goode is featured in “Hijacked identity,” Page 59.

Increasing tolls will further squeeze drivers
Pennsylvania again is discussing the possibility of making I-80 a toll road, from the Ohio line to New Jersey. The state claims the tolls for one truck will be $100. The 2004 Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill that allows all states to toll or lease our interstates to anyone. What’s to stop foreign companies from raising these tolls whenever they see fit? We are talking about roads and bridges built by our taxes and toll money.

As I see it, owner-operators have two options:

  • Run all rural routes through cities and towns. This will add many hours of driving time and cause drivers to not make their destinations on time.
  • Immediately establish a toll surcharge, paid only to the driver who is paying the toll.

As freight rates remain stagnant and diesel continues to rise, owner-operators cannot afford to take any more hits to their wallets. We are the ones with the big investment, and we do all the work. There seems to be no relief in sight. And no one is listening.
David Gaibis Sr.
New Castle, Pa.

California’s crackdown has far-reaching consequences
California is not seeing the full consequences of its recent law limiting truck idling to five minutes.

Does the California Air Resources Board realize that this will reduce the amount of fuel purchased in the state? Say your engine uses 1.5 gallons of fuel per hour. You sit for the weekend and idle because it’s 95 degrees. That’s about 55 gallons of fuel.

If you don’t idle, you will not buy that fuel. This amounts to millions of tax dollars lost each week, which makes me wonder how long will it take for legislators to raise fuel taxes or tolls. Other states that pass similar measures also will face the same problem.

All these new rules do nothing but drive small owner-operators out of business and drive the cost of living through the roof for every American.

If you stay in the industry, you will have to learn to shut off your engine at the fuel island. You will have to slow down. You will have to plan your trips so as to not be in heavy traffic as much. We will have to rely on each other once again.

If we continue to allow governments to legislate, tax and toll us out of business, we are failing the test of life and business. As long as we act as if we are unskilled laborers, we will be treated as such.

One solution for some owner-operators is not to go to California. There are many other states to run in, so no one needs to have reduced earnings.

If large carriers had the gonads to say enough is enough to California, things would change for the better. Legislators would begin to listen.

California is the springboard for innovation, regulations and ideas. Other states follow suit almost to the letter. Once a law is in effect it is nearly impossible to revoke it.
Gordon Alkire
Riley, Kan.

DAVID GARLETTS started his trucking career at the ripe age of 14, riding with a local driver in West Virginia’s coal country. Garletts says he quit school because of his love for trucks. “There wasn’t anybody in my family who were truck drivers,” he says. “They were all coal miners, and nobody could figure out why I wanted to be a truck driver. I told them there had to be a better way to earn a living than being a groundhog.” The first time Garletts got behind the wheel of a truck – a late ’50s or early ’60s International 190 – he barely could turn the steering wheel. “I wasn’t fully developed yet, and it took a lot of muscle in your arms to drive a truck without power steering.”

DON ADAMS recalls hauling produce with his trucker grandfather between Georgia and Florida throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The sparsely traveled roads sometimes carried danger. “There were people who would put red lights behind their grille and pretend to be cops,” Adams says. “If they found a truck out on a lonely road, they would try to pull him over and take the load.” Adams and his grandfather happened into such a situation one night. “Grandpa pulled off real quick and stopped short. The fool had to pull in front of us and couldn’t stop behind us like he wanted. Grandpa pulled his gun and cocked it.” The crook approached the truck, claiming the trailer door was ajar, then was spooked not by the gun but by the sight of a child: Adams. “He got in his car and drove off. Grandpa checked the door, and all he would say is, ‘Liar.'”

Career trucker JIM HENTRICH of Madison, Wis., cranked his first truck engine at age 12, more than 30 years ago. “A classmate took me to his house to see his brother’s semi,” Hentrich says. “It was a Freightliner conventional. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.” The boys lowered the automatic windows but could not close them again. “We both got nervous, and I said we should start the truck, and maybe the window would go back up. He got real scared when I started it. I thought it was cool!” The boys ran from the truck once the windows were shut, but Hentrich found his calling. “It was at that point where I said I wanted to do that: Drive a big old truck.”

What state has the toughest law enforcement?

“California. They have the toughest fines, higher than anyone else I know.”
Morganton, N.C.

“The scales in Connecticut are real tough, and the state troopers — it’s hard to tell where they are.”
Sunbury, Pa.

“California. I haven’t been there in a few years, but it seemed like they were the busiest and the least personable. ”
Earlville, N.Y.
Venezia Transport Service

“Mississippi. They’ll stop you a lot, and at the scales, they check the truck a whole lot.”
Gee’s Bend, Ala.
P&S Transportation

“California. I was born and raised there. They’re a little high and mighty, above everyone else. I guess aloof would be a better term.”
Cullman, Ala.
Action Resources

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