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5/18/2004
SPECIAL REPORT: California drivers protest in Concord

About 100 independent truck drivers formed a picket line in Concord, CA, May 14, where they asked for increased rates and improved working conditions. Concord lies near Oakland, where some previous trucker protests took place; it is also the site of a diesel pipeline that recently ruptured.

The group of nonunion drivers said mounting diesel prices, maintenance fees and insurance rates had converged to drive the profits out of their business.

"We're better off parking our trucks, selling them and working at a 7-11 store," said Johnny Singh, an independent truck driver with Royal Trucking who spoke to the Contra Costa Times. "We're not here to cause trouble; we understand that the brokers have to make a fair profit, but they also have to understand that we have costs, and we also have families."

Others complained that the trucking companies regularly required workers to drive beyond federally allowed hours and refuse to provide time off even in emergencies.

Truckers told the paper they would not return to work until their demands were addressed.

Meanwhile, in a letter to three companies – Royal Trucking, Reliable Trucking of Pleasanton, CA, and Alegre Trucking of Lodi, CA – dated May 8, the independent truckers called for a 50 percent rate increase on all loads; a 15 percent fuel surcharge; $65-per-hour pay for standby time; compensation for toll bridge fees; a 20 percent cap on commission and broker fees; and full disclosure of the rates paid to the trucking companies by their clients.

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