Timeline tracks - OOIDA from the beginning through its successes


  • The membership is growing slow but steady, finally approaching the 1,000-member mark. Discount member benefit programs have been put in place attracting more members and providing additional sources of funding for the association’s representational efforts.
  • Ignored pleas for relief from the fuel crisis lead to the Shutdown of 1979. OOIDA headquarters receives around 40 calls an hour from members and non-members voicing their support, encouragement and frustrations during the shutdown.
  • Land Line Magazine is incorporated. “Because we could not get accurate coverage from other publications, it was clear we needed our own,” says Johnston.
  • During and immediately following the truck shutdown, hundreds of organizations form, all claiming to represent truckers. Other groups drop by the wayside because of lack of sufficient commitment or because they learn there will be no quick buck or personal glory to be gained. While others fail, OOIDA begins to grow.


  • Deregulation is signed into law, despite opposition from OOIDA and other industry interests. OOIDA’s mission expands to help truckers in new ways. New member benefit programs are added to provide big fleet prices and benefits to small-business truckdrivers. Trimming costs and maximizing per-mile revenue through better business practices become a regular message to members.
  • By way of ICC regulation, OOIDA succeeds in gaining a requirement for mandatory detention payment for all dock delay time over two hours. Four years later, a lawsuit was initiated by a group of motor carriers that resulted in overturning of the uniform mandatory detention charges.


  • The association represents about 3,200 professional truckers. It moves again, this time into a renovated building in Grain Valley, MO, where it remains until 1998.
  • OOIDA member Todd Spencer joins the office staff Nov. 6, 1981, as editor of Land Line. He sells his truck and uses part of the money to buy a typesetting machine.


  • The DOT announces a package of tax initiatives aimed at repairing the nation’s bridges and highways, which also aims at truckdrivers’ wallets. The association’s position on the tax increase is clear — owner-operators will not and cannot accept the bill as written. OOIDA advises its members to contact officials in Washington to express their views of the DOT initiative. With OOIDA coordinating activities, the Senate reports more than 24,000 telegrams, mailgrams and letters received from owner-operators opposing the bill. In the end, the tax package increases the highway use tax to only $550 instead of $1,900. Similar grassroots efforts are launched today through OOIDA’s Call-to-Action program.
  • On April 17, 1982, OOIDA holds its first convention.
  • OOIDA’s strong lobbying efforts are rewarded when nationwide uniform truck size and weight limits are established by Congress through the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act. STAA replaces the antiquated and impractical system of each state setting differing and conflicting limits — a system perpetuated by the railroad interests.


  • At OOIDA’s second convention, it is reported that membership is growing and that the greatest evidence that the association continues to speak effectively for truckers is the confidence that literally thousands of drivers place in it by joining its ranks.


  • In the courts, OOIDA greatly expands the awareness of the economic burdens that fall most heavily on owner-operators struggling to survive and build a future for themselves. Prior to this, no amount of costly regulations or indignities heaped on drivers seemed to be enough to satisfy the “hammer the trucker” attitude.


  • A Washington, DC, law/lobbying firm is retained by OOIDA. The first lawsuits are part of an effort that results in cases filed against many states that impose discriminatory taxes on out-of-state truckers. Ultimately, hundreds of millions of dollars are refunded.
  • OOIDA asks ICC to eliminate the 30-day lease rule. By 1986, this is approved.


  • As the staff expands to more than a dozen OOIDA and Land Line employees, additional office space becomes a necessity. The association purchases the building where it has rented offices at 311 R.D. Mize Road, and within several years, takes over the whole building.


  • During the year that Congress mandates one CDL, OOIDA’s position on proper driver training and truck safety issues is scattered throughout the pages of Land Line. OOIDA stands by the same position on both issues today.
  • In a push to encourage truckers to join OOIDA, a 1987 issue of the magazine features an important question that remains relevant today: “As an owner-operator you are an extremely important part of the national transportation system. You are the most productive and competitive force within the entire trucking industry ... does it make sense that, individually, you should be barely surviving?”


  • OOIDA’s legal efforts expand. When the DOT proposes random and post-accident drug testing rules, OOIDA’s attorneys file for an injunction in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the very next day.
  • OOIDA’s staff more than doubles in two years as OOIDA’s membership count picks up steam.


  • The association has more than 14,000 dues-paying members and 60 full-time staff members.
  • OOIDA’s attorneys continue their efforts on behalf of owner-operators to obtain refunds of illegally collected truck taxes. As much as $1 billion in refunds are at stake in the cases, which challenge the constitutionality of some taxes.
  • Owner-Operator Services Inc. is incorporated. OOSI’s growing roster of programs provides much-needed services for trucker members. Participation in the benefits programs is growing.
  • Mary Johnston’s collection and “problem-solving” department — which later becomes Business Services — is proving successful. In one year, well over $100,000 in unpaid money is collected for members.
  • OOIDA’s Political Action Committee is established to give truckers more political clout.


  • Discriminatory abuse of out-of-state truckers and warrantless cab/sleeper searches prompt OOIDA to initiate a legal battle against the Tennessee PSC.
  • Membership dues decrease from $90 a year to $45 a year.
  • To help owner-operators comply with new drug-testing rules, OOIDA’s consortium — CMCI — is created.
  • OOIDA later expands its case against Tennessee PSC’s Keith Bissell after reports that state officials allegedly coerced truckers to contribute to Bissell’s campaign.
  • Land Line’s circulation is up to 77,000.


  • Filing position statements on virtually every proposed rulemaking and testifying personally before Congress on truckers’ concerns, OOIDA continues to make its presence known. Big issues included loading and unloading and new CDL requirements. Another issue high on OOIDA’s agenda was to stop longer combination vehicles. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) freezes the weight of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) and limited them to routes that were allowed by the states on June 1, 1991.
  • OOIDA files suit against the DOT’s four-state pilot program of random roadside drug testing of commercial drivers. The program is dropped by DOT as unfeasible.


  • Almost 20 years after the association was founded, its original mission is still evident — to provide a strong and effective voice for professional truckers in all matters and issues affecting the industry. As it is today, the effort was focused on three major fronts: legislative, regulatory and in the courts.


  • OOIDA marks its 20th anniversary, and membership has climbed to 17,253.
  • Dropping compensation, increasing taxes and other issues lead truckers to take part in a national shutdown from Nov. 11 to 17.


  • In the aftermath of the 1993 national shutdown, OOIDA pushes aggressively for government to address issues of fuel pricing, NAFTA, meal deductions and more.
  • OOIDA wins its initial court case against the Tennessee PSC. Soon after, the Federal Highway Administration starts withholding funds from the state over the controversy.


  • OOIDA’s case and new revelations lead the Tennessee Legislature to abolish the state’s PSC.
  • OOIDA and truckers are a primary force in getting the maximum 55 mph National Speed Limit repealed.
  • The ICC goes out of business.
  • The magazine press run exceeds 110,000 copies.


  • After the ICC sunsets, OOIDA steps in and fights hard to preserve protections for owner-operators. Through OOIDA’s efforts, the ICC Termination Act provides that the truth-in-leasing regulations are retained and truckers will be allowed to settle carrier disputes by filing a civil suit.
  • In other actions, OOIDA succeeds in blocking attempts to lower speed limits for CMVs in the approval of the National Highway System and wins a major tax case for truckers in Alabama.


  • OOIDA sees strong participation in member programs resulting in an expanding staff of 75 employees. The staff finally outgrows its crammed offices in the old building. On May 9, OOIDA breaks ground for its new 48,000-square-foot headquarters in Grain Valley, MO.


  • Loading and unloading abuses, credit card surcharges, escrow account violations and insurance overcharges draw fire from OOIDA and its attorneys as the association rolls into its 25th year.
  • In April, the staff moves into the new three-story building in Grain Valley with 87 employees. Membership is 39,000.


  • OOIDA files more lawsuits against motor carriers and several states. The issues: unfair and illegal treatment of drivers, violation of lumping laws, private right of action and double taxation.


  • Truckers converge on the U.S. Capitol March 16 to hold a convoy and peaceful protest for reasonable pricing, fair compensation and equitable taxation.
  • In May, membership reaches 50,000.


  • Members flood the phone lines at OOIDA trying to find out how they can volunteer to help in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Other members call to alert OOIDA about sudden jumps in diesel prices in the hours after the attacks. OOIDA and Land Line personnel make calls to identify the profiteers, and President Jim Johnston exposes them in his “Issues and Positions” column.
  • Business Services starts its carrier-rating system, which rates carriers based on how they treat drivers.
  • OOIDA battles for legislation that would establish a fuel surcharge mandate.


  • After five solid years of member- ship growth, expanding services to the membership prompts the association to seek more space. Land Line moves off-site to temporary offices.


  • OOIDA celebrates its 30th anniversary, but that’s not the only reason 2003 is a landmark year. In June, OOIDA sponsors Truck Safety Month, instigating a nationally recognized effort of truckers to run compliant and according to the law.
  • The association breaks ground once again on additional office space, a new three-story building that will be connected to the 1998 facility.
  • The association reaches 100,000 members. Staff at headquarters reaches 229. Land Line is direct mailed to more than 200,000 truckers nationwide.