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12/22/2009
BREAKING NEWS: Arrow drivers wake to nightmare before Christmas

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 – On Tuesday, as many as 1,400 truck drivers for Arrow Trucking Co., based out of Tulsa, OK, have been frantically trying to figure out their next moves as the company unexpectedly announced it was “suspending all operations” that day.

Truckers started calling in to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Land Line after they were awakened with phone calls from their dispatchers alerting them to the grim news that the company was shutting its doors and that their instructions were to turn in their trucks to the nearest Freightliner dealership. However, no instructions were given for drivers of International trucks.

One OOIDA member told Land Line on Tuesday, Dec. 22, that he had a bad feeling this was coming down the pike when his fuel card didn’t work at a truck stop the previous night. As of press time, the company driver, who didn’t want to be named, was stranded at a Freightliner dealership in Roanoke, VA, because he didn’t have enough fuel to make it to his delivery in Maryland.

“The dealership has been really good to me and said I could stay in the truck tonight since the bus headed home has already left for the day,” he said.

He said he had tried to call his customers to alert them to the situation. He said Freightliner staff also volunteered to make phone calls on his behalf regarding his load of vinyl fencing.

OOIDA Member Tim Tucker of Cedartown, GA, was in Los Angeles, CA, when a fellow driver called him with the news. He said he was “still in shock” because he had only been with the company for three weeks and had yet to receive a paycheck from Arrow. All he had received so far was approximately $40 in orientation pay, which he used to buy groceries.

At press time, Tucker was on Interstate 10 headed to Phoenix, where he has been instructed to turn in his truck and trailer.

“I really don’t know what to do or what to think right now,” he said. “Unfortunately, I only have a few hotdogs and a couple cans of soup left to get me back home to Georgia.”

Stephanie Ortega, who works in the Fleet Services department at Daimler, said she found out when she arrived at work Tuesday morning that Arrow Trucking was shutting its doors and about the company’s plan to help get Arrow’s drivers home.

She was instructed to tell drivers to drop their vehicles off at the nearest Freightliner dealership and to leave their keys with an attendant there or at a truck stop if they are out of fuel.

Ortega said drivers are asked to then call Daimler at 877-294-9679 and she and others there “can get them a bus ticket through Greyhound or the company will reimburse up to $200 for alternative transportation costs.”

However, one drawback to the plan is that drivers are on their own to find transportation to a local Greyhound station once they have surrendered their trucks.

“If they can get themselves to a local Greyhound station, we will get them a bus ticket and get them home,” Ortega told Land Line.

Bonnie Bastian, media relations manager for Greyhound Lines Inc., said she was made aware of the circumstances surrounding Arrow drivers around 3 p.m. today. She said while Greyhound’s commercial sales department is going to be “fulfilling orders,” Daimler personnel will be handling the ticket arrangements to get the drivers to their destinations.

For Tucker, he said as of yesterday his dispatcher was still trying to get him a load going home so he could be with his family for Christmas. He said he was surprised when he heard the news because Arrow Trucking was still hiring drivers, including him, in early December, so he assumed they were doing OK financially.

“I am still in total shock. I just don’t know what to do,” he said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
clarissa_kell-holland@landlinemag.com

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