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Long Term Trucking Strike Would Devastate U.S.

Feb
10,
2010
29

Allen SmithBy: Allen Smith

Talks concerning a trucker strike in the United States have been going on for years.  Labor strikes are nothing new, with the first recorded worker strike dating back to ancient Egypt when the Artisans of the Royal Necropolis at Deir el-Medina came together on November 14th, 1152 B.C.

In modern day America, truckers are no different.  With many trucking strikes taking place through out the years, most have proven to have little impact on achieving their intended goal.  A few hundred truckers here, and a few hundred there, most often, trucking strikes tend to fade away as simply as they began.  There is only one reason why strikes by the American trucker have little effect . . . there has never been a well thought-out and organized plan that would bring all truckers together in an effort to change things for the better.

All truckers of CMV’s, local, regional, long haul, union and non-union, would need to band together nationwide, and commit to a long-term trucking strike.  A short- term strike would certainly grab the attention of the United States, but would only be short-lived, and eventually, life would be back to normal.  It would only be through a long-term trucker strike, that America would see the importance of trucks and the American trucker.

I began thinking about this scenario.  What would be the real life affects from a long-term trucking strike in the United States?   Naturally, trucks from our borders of Mexico and Canada could offer some relief, but as you will see, even this assistance would have very little affect on the havoc that this type of trucker strike would have on this country.

A well organized, non-violent, nationwide trucker strike by American drivers would not only wreak havoc on the U.S., but would spread globally.  The short-term affects would be felt within a matter of days and would escalate to a much higher level within just a few weeks.  I looked further into the future as to what long-term consequences would come about from such a strike.  The outcome would prove devastating.

Never announce the date for a trucker strike.

In today’s world of technological advances, word spreads in a blink of an eye.  One reason a strike by truckers go by with barely a blip in the news, is that it has been done before on such a small scale, that nobody takes it seriously.

In 1974, the United States Atomic Energy Commission heard of a possible trucker strike.  John G. Davis, the Deputy Director for Field Operations,  Directorage of Regulatory Operations, ordered the following bulletin to be dispatched to all heads of office:

Truck Strike Possibility

“Please dispatch the enclosed Bulletin to those licensees on the attached list which are located in your Region. Also, send copies of the Bulletin to all operating reactors and those reactors which may receive fuel for loading within the next six months.”

“At this time there is no indication that the truck strike will gain great momentum, but we understand that some incidents of a minor nature have occurred in Ohio.”

“Enclosed, as RO Bulletin 74-2, is information concerning a possible truck strike that may influence your shipment of special nuclear material. Please note that should the strike occur and should you have special nuclear material shipments routed through the strike area, a report is requested of you.”

“It has come to the attention of the Atomic Energy Commission that a truck strike may develop during the period of January 24-31, 1974. Preliminary f information indicates that if the strike occurs it will probably be localized in the northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania areas. It is doubtful that the strike will be nation-wide. There is a possibility of isolated incidents. In view of the foregoing and your obligation to safeguard special nuclear material subject to the requirements of 10 CFR Part 73, you are requested to consider the consequences of this possible strike in scheduling truck shipments of SNM in quantities of 5 kilograms of contained uranium-235 or 2 kilograms of plutonium and/or uranium-233 for delivery during the duration of the strike.”

“Possible actions on your part to reduce the impact of any such strike on safeguarding of SNM include: (1) delay truck shipments until the strike period is over; (2) route shipments to avoid the strike area; (3) use other modes of transportation when available; (4) if shipment is already in transit and it cannot be routed to avoid the strike area, place shipment in storage and keep under surveillance for the duration of the strike.”

“If the strike does occur and you have truck shipments routed through the strike areas, please advise us by telephone, confirmed in writing within 24 hours, of your shipping plans and any preventive actions you may take.”

January 23, 1974
Bulletin 74-2

Therefore, by advertising the exact date that the strike will begin, if it were to be taken seriously, would give everyone time to stock pile supplies and prepare for a longer hold-out against the strike, as well as a means of preparing strategies to defeat the strike.  By always announcing the date that the strike will begin, is defeating the purpose.  Like the little boy who cried wolf, a trucking strike has been announced so many times through out the years, that nobody listens anymore.  On the other hand, this could actually work in favor of the truckers.

In order to have a successful, nationwide strike, all eight million U.S. CDL holders, or at the least, a mass majority,  would have to keep the exact strike date a secret.  Naturally, word will leak of a strike, but let the date leaked be a false one.  If everyone believed it to be real, let the country think that May 4th will be the day that the strike will take place.  However, known only to the truckers, the nationwide shut down would actually begin on April 17th.  Caught totally off guard, there would be no time for stock piling and preparation.

Trucking strike causes mass panic.

In the recent snow storm of the Mid-Atlantic region, the area was paralyzed by the massive blizzard.  Within hours of the news, many local D.C. stores were bought out and left with empty shelves.  With news of the second blast coming through, within just a few short hours, gas stations were out of gas.  During the fuel shortage of 2000, it took only a couple of hours before the stations were out of fuel supply.  This should tell truckers one thing . . . when a major event is certain, the population reacts with mass panic.

It is with this mass panic and rush buying from consumers, that the short-term and long-term affects of a nationwide trucking strike begins . . . followed by complete devastation:

  • Within a matter of several hours, gas stations would be out of fuel.
  • School buses could not run.  Eventually, schools, colleges and Universities would shut down.
  • Law Enforcement vehicles would be left on the side of the road.
  • According to usage, eventually, all of the approximate 145,381,402 vehicles in the U.S. would become useless.
  • Store shelves would grow empty.
  • As time went on, there would be no groceries, clothing, lumber or supplies of any kind.
  • Factories would shut down.
  • Restaurants would close.
  • As truckers continued the nationwide strike long-term, eventually every business in the U.S. would close.
  • Trucking companies would shut down.
  • Dispatchers, load coordinators, receptionists, all the way up to the CEO . . . would be out of a job.
  • Regulatory agencies such as CARB would have to shut down.
  • As time went on and truckers continued striking, millions upon millions would become unemployed.
  • The U.S. Government would become paralyzed
  • Airplanes would be stranded on the ground
  • Ships would be stuck in harbor.
  • As the trucker shut down continued long-term, eventually, trains would roll to a stand still.

All of this, eventually occurring from a well organized, committed and long-term trucker strike and we are just getting started.

Small, disorganized strikes have even shown huge impact.  Following an OPEC oil embargo against the U.S. and other western nations in the 1970′s, truck owner operators held a ten-day strike over high fuel costs in order to force the government in lowering the price of oil.  This small strike caused the Governor of Pennsylvania to call out the National Guard to protect the state’s roadways.  Within ten days, havoc had already begun.

The consequences of a nationwide, “stick to your guns” trucker strike would result in chaos that the United States has never seen.  Consider the trucking strike which occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 20, 1934.  This one shut down by truck drivers, in just one city, led to police injuring and shooting 67 truck drivers and their supporters.  Two special deputies were also killed, along with truck driver Henry Ness.  After this strike, Minneapolis workers were free to join unions, breaking hold of the Citizens’ Alliance.  This successful strike by truck drivers became known as Bloody Friday and was caught in sound and video:

Henry NessTruckers coming together, in one city, in a time when truckers stood by each other.  In remembrance of a fallen comrade, these truck drivers from 1934 erected a flag to pay tribute to one of their own:  Henry Ness.

The shut down by truckers in the U.S. have only been held by a few hundred or so and for a small length of time.  Even strikes on such a small scale can wreak havoc on hundreds of thousands.  During a coffee strike in Columbia, by day 15, over 500,000 Columbian families who worked in the coffee industry were fighting for their livelihood.  This small, fifteen day strike threatened the entire Columbian economy.  A massive, nationwide shutdown by American truckers would cause even a greater catastrophe.

Trucking strike would lead to U.S. starvation.

Even if Mexico and Canada were to send their trucks to the United States to help in aid of the country-wide shut down, this too would not last long.  To begin with, these trucks would not be able to travel further than a rough 500 miles into the U.S. before having to turn back for fuel.  Without trucks running, there would be no fuel at the pumps.  Furthermore, Mexico and Canada would not be able to spare their trucks for service on a long-term basis, or they would face the same havoc within their own countries.

As power plants used up their supplies of coal, and with no trucks or heavy equipment operating due to the lack of fuel, trains hauling the coal to the plants would eventually stop.  The shipment of grain and other livestock feed would cease.  The long-term affect of a nationwide trucker strike would continue:

  • Milk cows, unable to have their milk transported by truck would eventually perish.
  • Cattle, pigs, horses, goats, fish farms, chicken ranches . . . with no way for the food to be transported . . . would begin dying.
  • Trash of all kind would pile up everywhere due to garbage trucks being inoperable from the depletion of fuel.
  • Hospitals, unable to receive food and supplies would go under and the sick and elderly would be without medication.
  • Banking institutions which rely on trucks to pick up and transport currency would be empty and eventually close.
  • ATM machines would be unable to be filled, leaving millions without a cash supply.
  • Farmers and ranchers unable to receive or ship out, would lose billions of dollars in crop and the food chain for the American people would eventually fall.

All of this . . . from a long-term trucking strike . . . and still, we are not done.

Trucking strike sends U.S. in complete blackout.

If American truckers shut down for a long period of time, never wavering from their stance, eventually the United States would fall even further into chaos and panic.  As coal and other fossil fuels are no longer able to reach the power and nuclear plants by truckers, there would come a time when the plants could do only one thing . . . shut down.  Now faced with the inability to generate steam from the burning of the fossil fuels, the turbine which spins and generates heat energy, which converts to mechanical energy, which converts to electrical energy, which flows from the plant through the electrical wires to the step up transformer, which raises pressure to send the electrical current traveling for thousands of miles through the power lines, which reach the pole transformers, which goes through a service box, which finally provides our electricity . . . would end.   It has taken some time, while the plants burned through their stock pile . . . but now, through the course of a long-term trucking strike . . . America is thrown into a country-wide blackout.  However, it does not end here.

Trucking strike leads to global technological break down.

As the United States loses all power and electrical supply, the final jobs that were still available will end.  Technology in the U.S. is operated by people in the workforce.  With a massive long-term trucker strike, there would eventually be no workforce.  With no electricity or power, the flow of data will stop.  The internet will cease to exist, one server at a time.  As these servers go down, data is lost and technology as we know it fails.  As systems across the country attempt to handle the oncoming overload, entire electrical and data grids will shut down.  As a country that relies on logistics to keep America moving, any delivery by truck, train, aircraft or ship that might have survived thus far . . . becomes totally impossible.

Once our technology ceases to function, any remaining power is lost.  Battery operated equipment or machinery will eventually die with no way to recharge them.  We will have lost all communication to our space satellites.   As the trucking strike continues on long-term, the devastating affects would reach global proportion.

All of this, from a nationwide, never-ending trucker shut down.  Without trucks, trains would roll to a stop . . . aircraft would sit idle . . . ships would be stranded at harbor . . . stores and businesses would have no inventory . . . crops would fail . . . farms would close . . . there would be no jobs for anyone . . . the entire financial system would crash . . . America would be thrown into a nationwide blackout . . . millions would starve . . . law and order would fail . . . technological communication would be lost . . . the sick would get sicker . . . the blood supply would dwindle away . . . nationwide havoc and hysteria . . . life as we know it would change dramatically.

Until the truckers came back.

© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran ( started at an early age in family moving business) of the trucking industry, many of those years spent over the road. He has been an owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and has owned and operated a moving company, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. One thing though that most will say is that the reason and motivation behind the author, Allen Smith, is the fact he is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. As you read many of the blog posts you’ll discover that he is opinionated and speaks openly about the ongoing issues of the trucking industry. He supports other fellow advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who are in need of honesty, guidance and direction. The list of supporters and like minded people grows daily and their ability to network together and share their thoughts and ideas for the betterment of others within trucking, has allowed the forward movement of... "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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29 Responses to Long Term Trucking Strike Would Devastate U.S.. - Post a Comment

  1. Cheryl

    .
    My opinion is, workers who have the collective ability to hold the public hostage thru their actions should be treated as criminals when they flex that RIGHT in order to crippling their own society.
    .
    Remember Ronnie Reagan fired the AT Controllers when they didn’t show? Well done Ronnie. Awesome.
    .
    Thankfully, company drivers will NEVER stand a strike line with Independent truckers, a strike will never be crippling. For that I’m truly grateful.
    .
    If the ONLY way to get YOUR way is to deprive others you’re in the wrong business. That’s my piece.
    .

  2. Allen Smith

    A strike of this magnitude will never happen, nor would I want it to. It is to only show how important trucks and truckers are to our society and way of life.

  3. Dr. Ethan Hagen

    I am a chiro who sold his practice in 2007 after serving the public in that capacity for 18 years. I bought a ’07 Kenworth T600 and proceeded to drive 40,000 miles in it all around the country. Truck drivers are treated like crap! They are not paid anywhere near in line with the importance of the job they do. We live in a very materialistic society that has to have all it’s stuff all the time but doesn’t take a moment to think about how all that nice stuff gets there. I wouldn’t feel a bit sorry for the suffering if the end result was a society that came out the other end with it’s head just a little further out of it’s rear. Good food for thought Allen.

  4. Cheryl

    I mean really, your article is fantastical in scope and we both agree on one thing: a comprehensive strike WLLL NEVER happen. And I’m saying it SHOULD NEVER happen.

    The RIGHT to strike still stands as a constant threat to predatory employer practices. Yet we see unions still bargaining for better benefits and working fewer hours. It’s ridiculous. The entire country already pays more for everything when union henchmen are involved.

    Why don’t you write an article about how the US Government (the American people) allows you to itemize just every penny you spend. What other private sector, besides religion, gets that as a benefit? Most people have no idea.

    You’re right that trucking is a vital industry and we all suffer when truckers suffer.

    Basically, if you can’t make a living doing what you’re doing or you don’t get enough appreciation it’s time to find another job.

  5. Allen Smith

    Hello Dr.:

    A strike of this size in nature would be a terrible thing to go through, for truckers and the general public as well. My thoughts were to bring attention to the importance and sacrifices of our nation’s drivers, what they go through with no appreciation from those whose jobs would be lost, if not for truckers. There will be those associated with trucking companies and trucking organizations who will put a “spin” on my articles, totally missing the point I’m trying to convey.

    I would make my next post about how space aliens are coming to take over truckers bodies, and there will be those who will believe I’m condoning such action.

    It’s a strange world out there.

  6. Allen Smith

    Hi Cheryl:

    It is fantastical and will, nor should ever happen. However, it does show the scope of importance of our truckers, which again, was the purpose of the post.

    If you’re concerned with the itemizing of every penny, then you could write an article about that as well. I’m more concerned with how the government, law officials and the general population as a whole, treats the American driver and continually makes their lives more difficult.

    It’s not about its “time to find another job” but being treated fairly and justly for the jobs they do.

  7. Christie

    AMEN Allen, well put. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for to be appreciated for the jobs we do out here! This industry could sure use more Allen Smiths to speak up for us! Thanks for your dedication to the industry!!

  8. Allen Smith

    thanks for the post, Christie. That was my whole point … everyone out there should realize the importance of these drivers to their very own livelihood and way of life!

  9. Mark S Blackmon

    Are you kidding! Owner Ops have been on strike for over 2 years now. We don’t or can’t haul cheap freight and make it. We have took several weeks off. And some have even shut down their trucks and got out of the business! Big companies that have good assets and these drivers working for pennies on the mile, are still hauling the freight. If it gets bad enough that they can’t make it no more. This crap with them opening the borders to Mexico, and the Mexicans will be hauling the freight! I beleive it is going to get down to just a couple of big companies will survive. Then we will all pay because they will be able to make their own price and we will, as consumers, have to pay for it in outrageous prices in the store! Their won’t be no small companies left or owner ops! No competition per say, except for Mexico!

  10. Mark S Blackmon

    And also with my other comment, you know the government is behind this. In that it is making more rules and regulations to get the rest of the drivers it can, owner ops too! Off the road with tougher regulations and this new point system. Every little thing they can get points against you till they will pull your license. And then less drivers to worry about. They, the government, is squeezing the industry, trucking, down to just a couple of companies! The government acts like it is for safety of the masses. The 14 hour rule, is it safer for a driver to be pushed to do as much as he can in 14 hrs. or is it safer to let him stop when he needs to and take a nap with out penalizing him!

  11. Walter Hall

    Great article, Allen. Someone has finally articulated the truth about the importance of the truck driver and the services drivers provide. In addition, you have portrayed the grim, realistic outcome that America would face if those they so brazenly treat, decide to stop doing what it is they do. Obviously, many take comfort in the knowledge that such a strike will never take place, and because of this, continue to disregard the rights and needs of those who have sacrificed much to ensure the products the country relies on will be at arms reach.
    As a driver for 15 years and unemployed for 3, (SWFL…perhaps one of the worst places for CDL holders, especially now) I find it offensive and very disrespectful to be questioned, ridiculed, scrutinized, and have extremely unfair mandates placed upon myself as well as other drivers. I have had no accidents, I have no points nor dui’s, dwi’s or the like. I have HAZMAT, tanker, and doubles and triples endorsements, and a valid health card. It would seem a strike is in order for owner ops and those being driven to the brink of bankruptcy to those like myself to get a fair shake. That’s all I and others like me want.
    Allen, you are very appreciated. Keep shedding light on this subject.

  12. Walter Hall

    Great article, Allen. You have articulated the importance of the truck driver and what losing the service the driver provides would do to the infrastructure of America. The knowledge that a strike will never take place on a large scale, in my opinion, is why things have come to their current state. Drivers are disrespected, disregarded, and treated as day-laborers, when they should be revered. Simply put, drivers keep the nation moving.
    Driver for 15 years, unemployed for 3. SWFL is perhaps one of the worst places for CDL holders, especially now.
    You are greatly appreciated, Allen. Keep shedding light on all that trucking and the industry entails.

  13. Allen Smith

    Thanks Walter, SW Florida, and Florida in general is pretty bad when it comes to outbound freight – mostly scrap paper and scrap metal … I believe there is a bigger movement going on now, due to the future of the economy, where long-term, experienced drivers are being squeezed out for various reasons, in order to bring in an influx of lower paid drivers. All the talk about “safety” is just talk … who’s more safer than a 20, 30 year driving veteran? Wish you luck, Allen

  14. Allen Smith

    Thanks again …. Allen

  15. cel

    Please think before u write….listen…its not just about
    Trucking…its about making a living in any profession.
    People do have the power to change things…Like
    anything though….it takes discipline and effort to make
    things happen. A strike such as this would fuels other workers
    in other industries to do the same. We are social
    creatures…if this were to become a social excepted behavior
    then all companies would be forced to pay something
    more appropriate…..by the way….I love the free market
    and profit…..however….the objective is to make
    all workers do as much as possible for as little as possible….
    ……..bottom line….if u except this behavior….
    this id how u will be treated….

  16. Allen Smith

    OK Cel … from now on, I will think before I write (?) … Allen

  17. WhiteBTX

    It is quite true that truckers are vital to our economy. The important question is not, “How can truckers get better pay and working conditions?”

    Instead, the right question is, “What would I do and how could I survive in the breakdown of society?” A trucking strike is one of the events that could trigger that breakdown.

    Trust me, the guns are going to come out on all sides.

  18. Albaby

    I suppose you could say the same thing about garbage collectors, power plant workers etc. You didn’t mention that people in hospitals would die due to lack of fuel, medicine, electricity. If you tried to show how important truckers are-you failed. If you tried to show—-ah, never mind.

  19. [...] a 100 here or 500 there, but it is time to get pass the truck driver strike rhetoric.  A U. S. nationwide trucker strike will never happen, nor should it.  It could prove to be a horrendous act that would spin a country [...]

  20. stacy

    yes it should happen and it is aparent you have not been in the bus. long

  21. Irwin Onstott

    I for one have been forced to drive more hours fatigued due to the 14 hour rule. The 14 hour rule was supposed to help the driver get more rest. However it has worked the opposite. In order to survive I have to drive more hours tired to get the load there on time. If that happens that cuts may pay down for the week. I would like to see the hours of service be revoked and go to the original ones so i could get some decent rest.

    Another thing that needs to happen is to force the shippers and receivers to pay detention after a reasonable amount of time at their docks.

    One more thing. The shippers and recievers should be required to load and unload their product. It should not be up the the trucking companies to pay lumpers to do the job.

    • midnight

      well if drivers r not getting enough rest maybe they should go to bed when they r on there 10 hr break instead of being on the cb looking for hookers and drug those r the drivers giving us a bad name. i have been a driver for 29 yrs i dont think a strike is the anser, we have done this to our selfs so why should the american peole suffer for our mistakes.the ones that hurt us is the ones at the ata and others who say they r for us but only line there pocketts.

  22. Kevin

    Truckers should go on strike. For too long company drivers have been crapped on by their employers, dispatchers, fellow truckers, the police, but more importantly, by all of society. People absolutely hate truck drivers and the people who employ truck drivers exploit them and their labor power. Truckers earn on average some where around .34 per mile. This wage has not increased significantly since before World War II and that is a shame. It’s long past time for truckers to strike in this country.

    Yet for a strike to be successful, truckers would need to coordinate with other sectors of the economy. Just getting Longshoremen to strike along with the truckers would work. I’d say within a week’s time the government would be in full bargaining mode if such a strike occurred.

    Striking by workers is not illegal and strikes have a long history in this country. Essentially, when you get down to brass tax, Americans struck before we kicked the British out. People who claim strikers are criminals are actually the real criminals who pay people an exploitative wage. Company drivers can make more money; greed is the reason why they don’t. Powerful company CEO’s and those in the brokerage firms conspire to keep the trucker down. It’s time to rise up and f’ stuff up! It’s the only way the immoral business community will listen.

  23. Allen Smith

    Kevin,

    Join us on October 15th http://miketestsite.info/2011-convention/
    The information at this event for truckers will be priceless.

    RSVP Limited seating http://www.truckingsocialmedia.com/reservations/index.html

  24. John

    I have family who have worked for the trucking companies and who have been drivers. I appreciate the social statement you have made here about the value that truck drivers have in the US and in the world as a whole. I know that what I buy at the store was delivered by a trucker who took his job seriously. I personally want to thank all the drivers who make my life a lot better. Your theory it correct, it would be crippling. Just the few times that supply lines have been cut off have been very difficult. I believe I detected a great deal of thought in your essay. Thanks for your thoughts! Thanks for all the hard work of the truckers in our country and every where.

  25. […] skyrocket. This is from askthetrucker.com.. it has to the consequences of a long term strike. Trucking strike would devastate United States | AskTheTrucker __________________ To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or […]

  26. kbmokc

    I just thought about how the TRUCKERS in this scenerio would at some point ALSO be out of gas and starving.. they would not survive long enough to get to the point where energy sources would be unavailable. Other industries in reality would be able to still deliver by planes and trains needed gas and food to keep society going. before ANY vehicles at all existed there was a method if nothing else by horse and cart. but since we have ships planes and trains I think it would not be a perfect system.. but some basic system to deliver would still exist. Then police and small vehicles for delivery would still gas up and finish delivering to each area on a limited basis. They would not carry as much and require many more repeated routes and there would have to be many more smaller vehicles.. but a more limited delivery of basics would still exist.

    • Allen Smith

      You’re right . . . they survived in the past, long before our current technology and sophisticated systems, but should a strike go on LONG ENOUGH, life as we all know it (now) would definitely change.

      I for one, wouldn’t want to see it!

      Thanks for the post.

  27. Lee G.

    An interesting article, I am a driver currently for Crane operating company and I must say I get paid quite a bit more than a local or over the road driver, but that is because they are part of union. The over the road runners and long haulers make okay money but it is more or less just sustainable for an above poverty livelihood. I have seen most truckers seem to have stay at home spouses therefore making trucking a single income lifestyle similar to the military. The spouse or parent gone so much requires greater psychological attention for the kids and property. There is more to the required increase in wage for drivers than most would admit. I would be onboard for submitting some intelligent inquiries for a nationwide union for truckers with a CDL-A.

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