Convoy protests fuel prices; delivers message in person to DC lawmakers

| 4/28/2008

As diesel fuel prices remain higher than $4, many truckers are at their wits’ end on what to do to stay in business as rocky economic conditions continue to beat up the trucking industry.

A convoy of truckers from as many as 27 states personally delivered their message of frustration to Washington, DC, on Monday, April 28, letting lawmakers know that while some truckers are struggling, others have already gone out of business because of record-high fuel prices.

OOIDA member Larry Sidelinger of Nobleboro, ME, has a small logging truck company. He convoyed with about 50 trucks from Maine to DC. Sidelinger, who has been very active in getting legislation passed in Maine to help truckers, along with other drivers was scheduled to meet with Sen. Olympia Snowe, D-Maine, to discuss some of the issues truckers are facing.

Snowe is sponsoring legislation, which OOIDA supports, that would ensure that fuel surcharges are paid to the individuals who actually pay for the fuel. Now, brokers and others who collect the fuel surcharges often fail to pass along 100 percent of it to the truckers who are actually purchasing the fuel. Click here to read the bill – S2910 – named the “TRUCC Act” – which stands for “Trust in Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs Act.”

Sidelinger said meetings have been set up with at least two other senators as well.

OOIDA life member Don McKinley and his daughter, Megan, traveled from De Mossville, KY, to participate in the convoy to DC. They left at 9 p.m. Sunday night and met up with the convoy that left Harrisburg, PA, early Monday morning.

“We decided to do this to show our support for what these people are doing and to protest high fuel prices,” Don McKinley told Land Line on Monday, April 28.

McKinley said he has also been calling his lawmakers to let them know how high fuel prices are affecting truckers.

OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Rod Nofziger was on hand to witnesses the convoy of truckers as they proceeded through DC.

“Seeing truckers exercise their First Amendment rights is a beautiful thing,” Nofziger told Land Line on Monday, April 28.

“The folks who organized the effort did a great job of putting it together and getting the attention of their elected representatives – despite having to fight through weather, traffic and regulatory red tape.”

OOIDA member and an organizer of the event, Michael “JB” Schaffner, of Nocona, TX, told Land Line the convoy “definitely got people’s attention” as they made their way through the streets of DC.

Another organizer of the event, OOIDA member Mark Kirsch of Myerstown, PA, gave countless interviews to the media as the convoy made its way to RFK Stadium on Monday.

“We have to get the message out to our elected officials that we can’t wait anymore,” Kirsch told Land Line on Monday. “Everyone is being affected by high fuel prices, from truckers who can’t afford to put fuel in their tanks to the elderly who can’t afford to heat their homes. We need help, and we need it now.”

The sign on the side of one truck participating in the convoy summed up the frustrations truckers and consumers alike are experiencing as a result of fuel prices: “Empty tanks, plus empty pockets, equals empty refrigerators.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer