Trump endorses trucker's 'boycott' of NYC -- but what's really going on?

Screen Shot 2021 06 28 At 3 39 52 Pm Headshot

trump trucking boycottPresident Donald Trump sits in the driver’s seat of a semi-truck as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House, Thursday, March 23, 2017.Official White House Photo by Benjamin ApplebaumFormer U.S. President Donald Trump recently got fined $355 million by the state of New York for misrepresenting his net worth in business dealings, and now he's backing calls for truckers to boycott New York City.

The New York Supreme Court's decision, handed down on Friday, met with outrage from Trump, who called it "election interference" and a "repulsive abuse of power." Trump quickly turned to fund-raising off the verdict, but since then, a few truckers have gone viral on social media offering another kind of support: A punitive boycott of hauling loads into New York City.

Are truckers boycotting New York City after the Trump verdict?

Popular trucking personality Chicago Ray kicked off the boycott story in earnest, sharing a video on Friday where he said “[Truckers] gonna start refusing loads in New York City starting on Monday... We're tired of you f**king with Trump, OK?”

Ray continued: “Our bosses ain't going to care if we deny the loads. We'll just go somewhere else, all right? You know how f**king hard it is to get into New York City.”

That video made it all the way to Trump himself, who reshared it on his social media platform, Truth Social. 

Ray deleted the video by Tuesday morning, but said he continues to refuse hauls to NYC.

"Drivers can make their own decisions based on their families and their careers," he wrote in a second statement. "I worked for a place for 18 years and I quit them in one day and had this job b4 I got to my car.... i ain't the leader of any movement... I'm my own man period."  

That didn't stop the drumbeat of news about a trucker boycott of NYC.

"It could shut New York City down... if New York loses just 10 percent of the trucks going there, their prices are going to skyrocket on everything, from milk to eggs to any type of goods that the consumer needs," Jennifer Hernandez, who spoke from the cab of a truck, told the News Nation outlet over the weekend

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

"When that happens, it's going to cost everyone more money," she continued. 

To Adam Wingfield, head of the Innovative Logistics Group consultancy to owner-operators and small fleets, Hernandez's claim didn't make sense, and he questioned the reliability of social media for stories about the fragmented trucking industry. 

"One driver joins live on-air and quotes a percentage out of the air. There is no facts, evidence or really anything behind her reasoning," Wingfield commented on the video of Hernandez. "This is stupid….10% of what number??? You mean of active motor carriers? Or active trucks on the highway??"

Overdrive sought to nail down hard numbers around a boycott of NYC, and found a few claims of big businesses hopping on the bandwagon, but nothing verifiable. 

One prominent voice on Twitter promised large scale action in Trump's defense: "We ship tens of millions of dollars worth of freight in thousands of trucks and as of today, none into or out of NYC," said an account claiming to belong to Marcel Kalinovic.

Kalinovic mostly promotes some type of cryptocurrency/stock brokerage on his Twitter profile, but also claims to run Hot Shot Logistics, LLC in the Chicago area. Hot Shot Logistics mostly uses computer-generated imagery on their official pages, and looking up their name and number in FMCSA's database leads to two brokerages, each of which report zero power units and inspections. Another entity with the same phone number, Hot Shot Expediting Inc, a carrier, lists just one power unit and two drivers.

Overdrive reached out to Kalinovic and the Hot Shot businesses, but hasn't heard back. 

"They give people a mic and platform without verification," Wingfield concluded about social media. "All for clicks and reach. Social media is worse than mainstream."

[Related: 'If you can say it in a meme, you didn't think about it hard enough']

Does NYC actually not want truckers?

In one-on-one conversations, drivers leveled with Overdrive: Everyone already hates going to NYC anyway.

"Need permits to travel the state, tolls to cross the bridge (over $120) per truck, no parking, tight corners and infernal traffic. Take your pick" of reasons to avoid NYC, said one. 

Indeed New York City is about as inhospitable to OTR owner-operators as possible. The George Washington Bridge, one of the main entry points into the city, consistently ranks as the worst traffic bottleneck in the entire country. The city incentivizes New Yorkers to hunt down and report idling trucks for a bounty, something that CNBC called "a lucrative side-hustle for clean air vigilantes."

New York City outright bans 53-foot trailers from operation anywhere within the five boroughs, including in the Bronx's Hunt's Point, the main cold storage for nearly all of the produce that enters the city. One small fleet owner who delivers to Hunt's Point on a daily basis said the 53-foot rule was a "very old stipulation very rarely enforced," and that he's seen only one ticket ever written for an over-length trailer.

"Before all this stuff with Trump, there were plenty of guys that won’t go into NYC," said the fleet owner. "But everybody I do business with knows it's just part of the game."

The fleet owner said that a recent overhaul of I-95 meant that now drivers simply have to brave the GW Bridge and then "eight or six miles" of interstate to get into Hunt's Point. "It's not like you're on tight streets anymore, it's very simplified," he said. Actual OTR 18-wheelers remain a rare sight in the city, he added. "There's a lot of daycabs, a lot of 48-footers, if you look at the U.S. mail hub outside Lincoln Tunnel."

Mostly, haulers drop their goods at Hunt's Point or a delivery point outside the city, perhaps in New Jersey, and then it gets reloaded onto smaller straight trucks that actually deliver into Manhattan, he said.

To sum it up, there's no New York City truck stop that will go empty and lose business. Groceries are already expensive in the city, and real OTR big rigs mostly skip the city anyway, and have for years.

But like the Texas Border Convoy before it and other attempts for U.S. drivers to emulate the success of Canada's Freedom Convoy, the idea of truckers organizing to keep political and judicial leaders in check has gained steam even beyond any physical boycott. 

Even with more organized, focused boycotts, like the National Owner Operator's Association's blacklisting of TQL and other mega brokers, not all participants march in lockstep. Recall this NOOA member, for instance, admitting to sometimes still taking a TQL load

[Related: 'TQL PAY ME MY $8,000': Owner-op confronts broker over nonpayment]

"I think it’s empowering to some to say you’re making a choice when you’ve literally had no choice for the past two years but to be lean on costs or just not work," wrote Chris Thomas, who goes by IndieTrucker on Twitter. "Sad state we’re in."

Gord Magill, writer and Voice of Go(r)d podcast host, felt that the trucker-boycott narrative was overblown and a missed opportunity. "Just imagine for a moment what we could accomplish with all of this online attention for any number of real issues in the trucking world. And then realize that this whole NYC thing is Kayfabe nonsense built around" a political candidate, he wrote, using a term that originally applied to the exaggerated dramatics of professional wrestling. 

So while it's entirely unclear if truckers making individual decisions (there's no identifiable organization advocating the boycott) will harm the New York Supreme Court in retribution for their verdict against Trump, all this political posturing makes one thing abundantly clear: It's an election year.

As such, Overdrive would like to ask who you're voting for and if you're registered and ready to vote. Weigh in via the poll below and/or drop us a comment.