Whether you are a seasoned driver, just out of truck driver training or attending any of the truck driver schools across the nation, one should be watching the outcome of this recent truck drivers strike. Primarily owner operators, many drivers shut down for a few days to protest the high cost of diesel fuel. At $4.00 plus per gallon, nobody can blame them. When a rig holds 300 gallons of fuel, $1200 just to fill up your tanks is destructive to your bottom line profit.
But, will the strike have any effect? Will this small, short-lived demonstration actually cause a change for the better? Unfortunately, the answer will more than likely be a resounding, “NO.” Having a small group of drivers stage a 3-4 day “strike” will, sadly, accomplish nothing. With owner operators falling beside the way side year after year, the greatest majority of drivers on the road these days are fleet drivers.
It will perhaps cause those interested in truck driver training and looking at truck driver schools to take a second look at truck driving as a career. However, owner operators are the ones taking the dramatic hit by the fuel costs. The company driver does not have the worry. Most trucking companies will pass some of the increased cost of fuel onto their customers through an added fuel surcharge, but the rate of freight will remain the same . . . cheap. Therefore, the owner operators will continue to haul the load at the same low rate, while doing battle with the increased price of diesel. The truck driver will always be the one who loses.
Strikes of this nature will simply not work. It will take the effort of all truck drivers working together in order to force those with the power to make changes occur. And that, my friends, is where the problem lies. A few hundred drivers here and there cannot make change . . . it must be done by thousands . . . no, millions.
Eight million CDL drivers in the United States today, and most of these would have to participate in a truck driver’s strike to catch the attention of Congress and the nation, and be taken seriously. Now, what would have to be done? Hundreds of thousands of truck drivers, company drivers and owner operators would have to ban together and shut their rigs down. They would have to do so, not for a few days, but for several weeks.
CDL drivers everywhere would have to make the decision to STOP the flow of freight in this country, and do it long enough where the effects would be felt. This would mean store shelves would go empty . . . everything that everybody takes for granted: groceries, supplies, clothes, autos, EVERYTHING . . . would come to a halt. The general public still cannot comprehend that everything they buy . . . everything they purchase at a store or retailer or ANYWHERE . . . comes by way of a truck driver. The ships can still sail, the aircraft can still fly and the train can still run, but the truck driver carries the products to the stores. The truck driver carries it to the general public.
Because the owner operator is somewhat of a dying breed, it leaves mostly company drivers running the road these days. Thus, the fear factor sets in . . . ”If I shut down and strike, I would lose my job.” In addition, to create empty shelves in our nations store, what kind of suffering would that cause to the innocent? A mother needs formula for her baby, but the shelf is empty due to truck drivers striking? It is a tough situation and a hard call to make. On the other hand, the truck driver and his or her family cannot pay their bills due to the high cost of fuel factored in with the low cost of freight.
The good side of this is that the shelves could be refilled at an alarming rate due to the professionalism of our nation’s drivers. But this is the only way for drivers to make a change. For those who are attending truck driver training or considering truck driver schools, they too will have to consider the options of someday executing a massive, well organized strike with other CDL drivers. A strike . . . a “real” strike . . . of such magnitude, will cause those in power to react.
Truth About Trucking
© 2008, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.