Speakout: The Voice of the American Trucker

Would a union help a sustainable profit?

In my 51 years as a trucker, I have been both a union and non-union driver and, for the last 25, an owner-operator. Through all the years of strikes and protests, shippers and receivers still keep truckers waiting hours and sometimes days to load or unload. Those waits are made with no pay for truckers and no consideration for fuel’s high price or cheap freight rates.

When times are good, that practice is bad for us, but when times are bad, they are even worse.

I’ve read about the owner-operators’ plights for years in national trucking magazines. A trucker should not have phrases like “having a hard time of it,” “can barely survive” and “going out of business in record numbers” in his vocabulary.

Yet as the cost of operating, basic living costs and taxes escalate while freight rates remain frozen, the small business operators don’t have a chance. Survival is not the reason people work: They work for a sustainable profit!

Is an owner-operator trucker’s union the answer? Would we have the power to control our future by speaking with one voice? We could name it the UTW for United Transportation Workers. Or, as usual, should we just whine? Our slogan could be, “If you got it, a truck brought it.”

By the way – where is our stimulus package?


New Castle, Pa.

“Well, it should be all the way across the board for

everybody. I mean, texting and driving just don’t work.”

— Trucker Lee Bryant, interviewed in Shillington, Pa., by WFMZ-TV about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s texting ban







What has been your worst experience with a breakdown or towing?

thomas“Coming through Birmingham two drive tires fell off, and then my brake drum fell off and shattered. The mechanic had put the wrong studs on the wheels, and I had a real heavy load of frozen chicken. I took off on an uphill ramp until I could stop… I don’t know how much it cost to tow because I didn’t have to pay for it.”


Savannah, Ga., Wando Trucking company driver

james“I’ve never been towed, but my motor blew up and it cost me $7,000. Luckily it happened five miles from my house. The people I work for had a hook and came and got me.”

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Auburn, Ga., Leased to Spot Trucking Inc.

bill“I had a turbo go out in San Diego. I made it to the shop, so I didn’t have to get towed, but I lost a couple days while they were fixing it. The worst part was the price: $4,000.”


Guysville, Ohio | Leased to Landstar

chris“I had a turbo go out, and I was 150 miles from home. The tow company charged me $1,500 to get to my house, which I thought was a lot, but business is business. They’ve got families to feed, too.”


Meridian, Miss. | Leased to Riteway Transport

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E-mail your letter to the editor to Lucinda Coulter at [email protected] or mail it to Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403.

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