Issues & Positions
If we don’t do it, who will?

Jim Johnston

In the July issue and in this month’s Land Line, we included a response form designed to obtain your reactions to June Safety Month. We asked for opinions on what results had been achieved, what the next steps should be and what role OOIDA should play in any continued effort.

The early results of that poll indicate an overwhelming majority of those responding wish to continue the effort to unify in opposition to forced noncompliance. About half indicated they felt “a little” progress has been achieved and less than one-fourth expressed the view that “a lot” of progress had been made. Many felt no progress had been made at all, but even a majority in this category expressed the view that the effort should be continued.

Many of those responding also included brief comments such as:

“Things now are such a mess it will take time and a lot of effort. Stay after it.”

“It was a good feeling to belong to and participate in the effort. Keep it up.”

“OOIDA has to continue to lead this effort or it will fall by the wayside. Drivers are going to need support when pressured to run illegal.”

“We, as truckdrivers, need to stand together if there is going to be improvement in the industry. Until all drivers understand what needs to be done on their part, things will not get better.”

“I was told to stop playing games with my logbook. I told them it wasn’t a game, I was serious.”

“It’s the only way to get back to an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

“Excellent plan of attack!! I am tired of the long waiting hours at the dock. I’m an owner-operator, not a grocery worker! 100 percent support.”

“Maybe I’m just not positioned to see the effects. My dispatchers had little patience with me ‘dragging my feet.’”

“The drivers themselves should take the leadership role, but it’s nice to know OOIDA is there to help with our rights.”

“In order to gain, this has to be an ongoing commitment. You started something that needed to be done. Don’t stop now.”

“If we don’t continue to try to move forward, things will continue to move backward.”

“I think we’ve made a good start, but we have a long way to go.”

“If a stand is not made, nothing will change.”

“I will not take it anymore – time to fight back.”

“I checked ‘a little’ in the progress category, but any progress is a giant step toward better working conditions – thanks. Let’s keep it up.”

“Don’t stop now!!!”

“If we don’t do it, who will?”

“Please don’t stop. The ball is rolling. Keep it going. We may lose a little now but gain a lot in the future.”

“It’ll take time, but it is working!”

“We are the only people that can solve our problems – no one else will.”

“Always take the fight to them. It’s the only way you gain ground in any battle.”

“I think we should continue to resist forced noncompliance. If we continue, based on reports, the price of freight will raise. OOIDA should play both leadership and supportive roles. Maybe if we stick together, we can win.”

“If everyone said ‘no’ to cheap freight, there wouldn’t be any cheap freight.”

“Great job OOIDA and those taking a stand. Hope to see some results before I retire.”

“Only one day at a time. Saying no to unprofitable loads shouldn’t even be a question.”

“Keep getting out the legal info and drivers, whether owner-operators or company drivers, will keep complying. It will make the roads safer and our jobs easier.”

“I have tried for the longest [time] to demonstrate to the owner-operators that Teamster drivers get paid better because they stand together.”

“We were sold out by the ATA. You tried your best, but big money has us beat. Thank you.”

“If OOIDA does not lead, it won’t get done. Lead on!”

“Any letdown will make things just go back to what it was.”

“In order to survive, I could not log all waiting time ‘on-duty.’ However, I did and do run the speed limits. Had 43 hours dock and wait time in June.”

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. Keep going!”

“Let’s have run compliant year – June 2003 through July 2004.”

“Keep up the good work. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. United we stand.”

“I’m new to owner-operators but have spent 15 years on the road. There has to be a change.”

“Great job done so far. Keep it up.”

“I am a company driver for a major LTL company. I only run nine hours a day, five days a week but still run compliant to be a benefit for all. I still make $65,000 per year, but will do all I can to improve the industry.”

“OOIDA should remain the driving force behind this effort to justify our rights. Proactive vs. reactive.”

“It’s time we stand together. You’re doing a fine job. Keep it up.”

“Legal compliance is the only thing shippers, receivers and carriers will understand.”

“I am not currently driving due to an accident caused by yielding to pressure to ‘get the load there on time.’ I have been off 1.5 years. I am currently bitter because I allowed this to happen.”

“We need to go six months full compliance. One month won’t hurt – six months will.”

“Keep the pressure on the shippers/receivers to move the trucks in and out. Support the company drivers who are being taken advantage of.”

“We’re darn proud of y’all – Jim, Todd and everyone at OOIDA. Off to a good start, but a long journey still ahead. If we continue to lead, eventually the rest will follow! (We didn’t grow to almost 100,000 members in 30 days either!)”

“Impossible to undo 25 years of damage on one month. Extend it as long as it takes.”

“The stand will work but only if an increasing number of drivers are willing to join in.”

There were many other great comments that I wish there was available space to reprint. These are typical of the comments received — almost all in support of continuing the effort. While it may be a bit of a cop out (using your comments to do my editorial), I really can’t think of any way I could say it better.

As many of you pointed out, the key to gaining meaningful results is increasing the level of support for the effort. The only way to accomplish this is for all of us to work hard at convincing others that the road we have taken in the past leads nowhere but downhill to the bottom. More miles or more loads at cheap rates do not equal better pay. Failure to log “on-duty, not driving” time at shipping and receiving points does not increase revenue or earning capacity. It only condones and helps to expand the continuing demands for more of your uncompensated time.

The payment of lumping fees to unload someone else’s freight is an issue that we haven’t touched on much in this effort, but it is definitely a practice that should be strongly resisted. It is illegal for shippers or receivers to require you to hire lumpers, but they can legally give you the option of hiring lumpers or doing the work yourself. How long would this practice continue if you refused to hire lumpers and, doing the work yourself, kept their dock tied up for eight to 10 hours instead of the two to four it might take the lumpers?

The problems really aren’t all that complicated nor are the solutions. They could all be solved almost instantly if we were all standing together. Our only real problem is the ability among ourselves — drivers and owner-operators — to unite together to take a stand. If we can find the way to solve this problem, the others will be easy.