Organizers listed five trucking-related issues as driving the Ride for the Constitution demonstration that is planned to start Friday in and around Washington, D.C., and across the nation with individual shutdowns, other convoys and a called-for buy-nothing solidarity protest.
The five demands emerged from a conference call the evening of October 2 hosted by Pennsylvania-based company driver and former owner-operator J.B. Schaffner, also proprietor of TheAmericanDriver.com. Call participants represented varied segments, including an intermodal port hauler, a dispatcher of owner-operators and a former Midwest-based bull hauler. Schaffner had consulted offline with representatives of a California-based group as well, he said.
As previously reported, the first part of the demonstration is planned to have bobtail drivers and others ride into the heart of D.C. attendant to delivering the trucking-related demands as well as the “demands of the American people,” in the words of Ride for the Constitution promoter Zeeda Andrews, a separate list of five alleged constitutional violations. As of Monday, October 7, the then-organizer of the bobtail convoy into D.C., driver Earl Conlon, had noted “evidence” would be delivered to law enforcement authorities intended to result in the arrest of certain politicians “for violating their oaths of office” to uphold the constitution. Since that report, as well as this U.S. News and World Report article featuring a wide-ranging interview with Conlon, promoters have attempted to distance themselves from the driver.
A separate tractor-trailer convoy is planned to circle the beltway and get the attention of politicians and the general public by causing a traffic jam. Organizers are calling for supporting actions outside of D.C., such as truckers shutting down or the general public refraining from spending money.
Former owner-operator Schaffner and his brother Fred Schaffner, who passed away in 2012, successfully challenged the Virginia Department of Transportation’s two-hour parking time limit at rest areas. J.B. Schaffner was also a principal organizer behind the 2008 convoy to D.C. that protested fuel prices.
The trucking-related items in the manifesto, signed by Schaffner and promoter Zeeda Andrews and which you can access via the October 7 report in this series, call for the following:
1) Rollback of the hours rules to pre-July 1, 2013, status, and continued focus on the issue of excessive uncompensated detention time at shippers and receivers.
2) Abolishment of the crash-related side of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability’s system for ranking carriers, particularly given the system’s inclusion of crashes not identified as being the fault of the motor carrier/driver. Also included in this item are demands for rollback of Congressional/administration pursuit of an electronic log mandate, concerns with fuel prices given copious increases in domestic oil production, and concern over roadside officers’ unfair targeting of some carriers with erroneous violations.
3) Recognition and action on a wide concern with the California Air Resources Board’s diesel emissions regulations and idling limitations as onerous to the health and safety of drivers, as well as trucking business viability.
4) An end to Congressional efforts to increase mandatory liability insurance requirements of motor carriers as well as a recognition of insurers’ increasing ability to “control more and more of this industry,” in the words of the document.
5) Moving forward with the truck parking safety and availability provisions of Jason’s Law, included in 2012 MAP-21 legislation.
As of midday Monday, seven in 10 respondents to Overdrive online polling had indicated they planned some level of participation in the effort, more than 50 percent of total respondents indicating they would shut down in solidarity. Results as of midday Tuesday showed that number to have fallen several percentage points to 43 percent who indicated they would shut down; just under 6 in 10 indicated some participation in the effort.
Overdrive Dollars & Sense columnist Kevin Rutherford is against the Ride for the Constitution — Click here to read his blog post on why — and is hosting a special episode podcast Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. to “have a true open discussion about” the issue, he said in an email promoting the podcast. To participate, call (347) 884-8327; 250 lines will be available. Click here to listen online when the episode airs.