Truckers set to convoy to NY Capitol; meet with lawmakers

| 6/18/2008

Even though OOIDA life member D. J. Brown doesn’t live in the state of New York, he’s planning to convoy with truckers on Thursday, June 19, to the statehouse in Albany to protest the state’s ton-mileage tax, high fuel taxes and increasing toll costs, which are crippling truckers there.

“I definitely believe there is strength in numbers and that truckers need to band together right now because we are all struggling just to make it,” Brown told Land Line Magazine on Wednesday, June 18. “Truckers in New York are in bad shape because they pay extremely high taxes on everything.”

Brown, a Twin Lake, MI-native, said he took a load that would bring him to New York for the Thursday event. As of Wednesday, he was already waiting at one of the truck stops in Fultonville, NY, for other truckers to arrive.

While he’s been trucking for more than 30 years, Brown said he has seen many of his friends park their trucks or sell them because they can’t make it in trucking any longer.

He said one of his buddies drove his truck home after waiting more than a week for a good-paying load, which he couldn’t find. After cleaning out his truck at his house, he called the bank and told them to come pick up his truck because he wasn’t going to be able to make his payment.

“Instead of taking the truck back, the bank actually called my friend and said they didn’t want it because they had too many trucks already,” he said. “They ended up giving him a loan to keep him in the truck.”

While truckers are being punished by high fuel prices and low freight rates, Brown said consumers are being affected by rocky economic conditions as well.

“Right now, my mother has to decide whether to buy a part for her car, buy the medication she needs, or save (her money) so she can heat her home next winter,” Brown said. “This is just one example of what many Americans are facing right now.”

Bill Sutton said he has a challenge for any truckers who use the excuse they can’t afford to participate in the convoy to Albany. He’s had his share of bad luck recently.

Sutton, a flatbedder from Batavia, NY, has been trucking for more than 23 years. However, he said the company he was leased to for 16 years shut down on Friday, June 6. Besides losing his job, he is also out more than $12,000 he was owed in back settlements from the company.

“I got a message that I should be receiving a check for about $3,000 to $4,000, but I may have to wait a year or more to receive the rest, if I get it at all.”

Sutton said he’s participating in the convoy because he believes truckers should stand together to fight toll increases and high fuel taxes truckers in New York face. He is also meeting with his assemblyman, Stephen Hawley, while he’s in Albany to discuss some of the key issues truckers are facing.

“I really believe we are doing the right thing by doing this,” he said. “Even though I am forking out money out of my own pocket to participate in the convoy, I am not willing to just accept what is continually being done to the truck drivers here, which is being taxed to the point they can’t run any longer.”

He said that while many people don’t know his name, they recognize his truck, which is a bright purple 2005 Western Star LowMax.

“People don’t know me, but they know my truck. It’s hard to miss,” he said.

Convoy information
Some truckers will be leaving at 8 a.m. from the Fort Ann Super Stop, at Exit 28 on State Route 149, in Fort Ann, NY, to meet up with truckers convoying to Albany. Other truckers are meeting at the three truck stops in Fultonville, NY, at Exit 28 on I-90.

Truckers plan to converge together on State Street in Albany around 10 a.m. and circle the statehouse there. Click here for more information.

One truck stop owner and organizer of the event has offered to pay participating truckers’ tolls. He told Land Line he’s also invested as much as $10,000 of his own money in advertising costs and other out-of-pocket expenses to show his support for the convoy.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer