Small-business trucker understands frustration, but won’t join shutdown

| 3/27/2008

By 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 27, Carol Edwards of Brookhaven Transportation Inc. had already received the same e-mail three separate times from different people who were forwarding cattle hauler Dan Little’s “Open letter to all truckers” message, which calls for a national truck shutdown on April 1.

Although, as she said, “everyone she knows” is talking about the shutdown, Edwards said none of the truckers she personally knows are going to participate.

“No, we haven’t heard of anybody that’s actually going to do it, just this letter going around that everybody’s talking about doing it,” she said. “In all these letters, it sounds like the people writing these are planning to do it, but I don’t personally know those people.”

She and her husband, Steve, who are both OOIDA members, have been involved in the trucking industry since 1980. They live in Siloam Springs, AR. Steve drives, and the Edwards also have four owner-operators leased to them. While Edwards said her husband won’t be participating in the shutdown, she said he hasn’t ruled that out for his drivers if they want to do it.

“Well, I have talked to some of my owner-operators, and they said whatever Steve wants them to do they will do it,” she said. “I talked to Steve and he said, ‘I’m not going to do it, but if they want to do it, they can. I don’t have a problem with it.’ ”

The reason Edwards said her husband’s not participating is because he doesn’t think it will work. Leaders at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association share that concern. To read a Special Report on what OOIDA is doing regarding the high price of diesel and industry calls for shutdowns, click here.

“Steve said until Congress and the President stand up and notice the problem, it’s not really going to do any good,” she said. “For one day, if they did shut down, if every single truck in the whole United States did shut down, it would hurt the gas station owners, hurt the fuel stops, maybe hurt the oil company for one day. But it’s not going to hurt the oil company that much, because they have billions so it would just be a little glitch for the day – which for them is nothing.”

The day of the shutdown falls on a Tuesday, which Edwards said would hurt their drivers, who are typically out on the road. Because freight has slowed so much, Edwards said her drivers are already having to sit and wait so much already just to find a load.

“But most of our guys, if they shut down for one day, they are going to want to make sure they are at home to do it. On a Tuesday, our guys are not usually at home. They are usually out on the road,” she said. “They may be able to take their 10 hours and just kind of sit, but none of our drivers really want to sit.”

“We hurt as much as they do, emotionally, if they have to sit somewhere,” she said. “It’s very hard for us so we work diligently calling and trying to find something to get them out of there.”

Edwards said she has heard this type of talk about a possible shutdown before, but it was never so widespread in the past. She said more than 300 people were also sent the same e-mail she received.

“All of a sudden now with this fuel situation, the e-mails are going to everybody and everybody that knows somebody,” she said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland