Owners, drivers: Stand up and be counted

Truck protest convoy in New York, 2008
New York State Trooper Mike Walser, from Troop D in Oneida, directs trucks on Genesee Street in Skaneateles as truck drivers stage a protest against regulations that would limit their use of smaller highways in the state in this photo from Nov. 28, 2008.

Mexican Truck Lic Plate Square2Reacting to recent reports on the NAFTA long-haul trucking provisions pilot program for cross-border carriage, West Virginia-based trucking company owner Michael McRae delivered the following message to drivers and owner-operators, particularly the younger generation, in a letter to Overdrive editors.


Why is this such a big surprise? Congress had their chance to vote down [the cross-border program] but they chose to let it become law. We in the trucking industry have to take some of the blame also. We did very little to help make sure that our voice was heard within the walls of Congress. We did nothing to do what we do at M&M Contractors and Specialized Carriers, Inc., and that is called “Get Out the Voice.” That means that we call or email our workers and let them know that they need to contact the Congressmen and -women and let them know that we don’t need that piece of legislation that they are about to pass.

Now I know that your magazine does all it can do to make sure that the drivers of today are informed on the issues they need to be involved with. But if you can’t get them out of the rigs to take time to make a call or write an email or letter, then we have failed. Drivers and owner-operators for as long as I’ve been a company owner are a strange breed at best. They love to sit around and bitch about whatever, and when it comes time to politic it seems like they don’t want to rock the boat. I have seen it from both sides of the fence, and I know that if our owners and drivers stopped long enough to vote on the issues their voice would be heard. I go back to the “Black 70s” when we all shut down over gas and diesel prices. The president had to threaten to call out the National Guard to up hold the peace and try to get freight moving again. Of course, we finally went back to work, but not before the trucking industry made a statement about who controlled the freight in this country. All that is needed is to have some of these new regs tick enough of the drivers off and we could return to the 70s all over again with the shutdowns and blocked highways.

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But that is left for the younger men and women in our industry today. And I’m sorry to say that they don’t seem to care where the industry is going to end up. Congress seems to want to regulate our industry into the ground, and whatever comes out on the other side is what we are left with. So, all I can say is it’s about time for everyone to get off their butts and get out and vote, because we can’t afford another four more years of what we have gone through already. –Michael McRae, President & CEO, M&M Contractors and Specialized Carriers, Inc., Elkins, W.Va.