It has come to my attention that there is a growing movement online and through Facebook to organize truckers for some sort of a national shutdown and protest the weekend of October 11th-13th. I’ve been asked by listeners of my radio show and members of my websites to address this issue and offer my opinions, so here goes.
Let me be very clear about this event — I am completely and totally against this idea for so many reasons, and here is a list of why I think all truck drivers and small business owner-operators need to stay away from this group and their radical ideas.
Take just a moment and step back from your anger and frustration with the government and the current state of our political system. Think through this issue logically instead of emotionally and you will see that this can only end badly for the trucking industry and the country in general.
1) Shutting down roads and highways is dangerous and illegal, and can lead to very dire consequences. The trucking industry prides itself on the fact that the country would stop without us. That’s a true statement. Now think for just a minute on what kinds of things could happen around major cities with massive roadblocks caused by trucks. Emergency vehicles will not be able to get through, people could die because of this one consequence alone, do you want that on your conscience? Road rage incidents will flare up everywhere and can only lead to violence. The general public will not see the industry as heroes, but as angry thugs.
2) The protest has been planned for a weekend when the legislators and Obama are not scheduled to be in town, and it is a hefty fine for being inside the beltway and clogging highways. The resulting traffic jam does nothing in getting legislators’ attention to trucking issues. So this grassroots-planned event will be staged when no one is in town to hear them, and when it’s over, there will be lots of tickets to pay. It simply makes the trucking industry and drivers look foolish and uninformed.
3) Drivers are being urged to shut down roads not only in Washington, D.C., but all over the country. The general public will not understand what is happening and will not look kindly on the danger and havoc reaped upon their roadways.
4) Shippers and receivers not getting their products will have their entire business jeopardized and will not hesitate to move their freight by other means.
5) Groups that already oppose the trucking industry will jump on the chance to vilify the industry even more and call for more and stricter regulations.
6) This effort and protest is being organized and led by two people who have no connection to the trucking industry, and they are using the drivers to further their own radical agenda. They have even misled drivers into believing that they have been truck drivers. There is no real leadership — and no clear agenda.
7) I have found conversations on their Facebook page about urging company drivers to intentionally damage their company-owned trucks so that they can participate in the shutdown. I have also found similar conversations recommending that they park trucks at fuel pumps and service bays before disabling them in order to shut down services. This goes way beyond a government protest and is going to disrupt and hurt the private business we rely on to conduct our own business.
8) I read through a list of demands published by this group on both Facebook and their own website. The list was all over the place and had huge flaws in logic. The group claims to want less government regulation and a more constitutional government, yet the first two demands had to do with minimum wage for drivers and minimum rates for the trucking industry. This is anti-free market and requires huge amounts of government intrusion and regulation on the industry. You can’t have it both ways. When I interviewed the two organizers of the event, they refused to talk about those points and then later that day removed them from their websites. It’s too late, we know what their true agenda is.
9) They are now asking for donations so that they can provide fuel money for owner-operators who can’t afford the fuel to drive to Washington, D.C., and participate. This is outrageous and may even be a scam to get your money. Do you really want to be represented by owner-operators who can’t afford fuel for one trip? Is this the group you want to be associated with?
10) The group claims to want input from the trucking community but immediately deletes any comments not agreeing with any part of their agenda.
11) This ill-conceived action punishes and endangers the general public and businesses we rely on and does nothing to the politicians we need to reach.
Please take some time to read and think through this issue. If you agree with me let’s make our voices heard. Let’s make sure that the public knows there are members of the trucking industry that are informed and are a part of the political process and are not anarchist thugs.
Overdrive Dollars & Sense columnist Kevin Rutherford 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.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.