U.S. representative seeks truckers’ input in Chehalis, WA, on Friday

| 8/5/2008

Since June 2007, more than 633 log haulers in Washington state have gone out of business with only 352 registered log haulers remaining there, according to data from OOIDA member Sherrie Bond.

Bond said she and her husband, Bob, who have a log-hauling company, will be among those going out of business if the economic tide doesn’t turn for the better – and soon.

In recent months, the Bonds have staged two fuel protest rallies in hopes of gaining media and lawmakers’ attention. Their efforts gained the attention of U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-WA, who met with them in April to discuss how high fuel prices are affecting truckers’ livelihoods.

Baird announced recently that he will have a community forum from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8, at W.F. West High School in Chehalis. The agenda includes discussion of the impact of high fuel costs and the need for higher compensation rates for log truckers in Washington state. Click here to read OOIDA’s Call to Action on Friday’s forum.

Bond said she encourages all truckers to try and make it to this opportunity to meet with a congressional delegate about truckers’ plight.

“We want to get as many people there as possible,” she told Land Line on Tuesday, Aug. 5. “This is a chance for truckers to speak out and have their messages heard – messages they may take back to Washington with them.”

She said some of the truckers she has spoken to in recent weeks are barely hanging on right now. One log-hauling company, once considered “trailblazers” in the timber industry, put six of their 10 trucks up for sale last week, according to Bond. She said that one particular company once had 20 log trucks before fuel prices started skyrocketing out of control.

Other truckers she has talked to recently aren’t faring much better.

“One of the truckers I talked to has been in business for 40 years and he’s supplementing his business with his retirement because he just isn’t making enough right now,” Bond said. “He told me it would be easier to accept if he wasn’t a good businessman, but he’s survived in this business a long time.”

Bond said she has been in contact with Baird’s office this week regarding the questions that some of the truckers who will be attending the forum have for him and other lawmakers scheduled to attend. Baird sits on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which is a key committee for truckers’ concerns.

“I wanted him to have some of the questions so he could be prepared and have time to really put some thought into his answers,” she said. “I want truckers who attend this meeting to feel like this was a valuable and worthwhile experience for them.”

She said truckers plan to raise questions regarding high fuel prices and what can be done; the need to have compensation rates increased for log haulers and ways that can be achieved; and the issue of oil drilling on U.S. soil. She said oil from the Alaskan pipeline is pumped into Washington state, but the oil is never disbursed in the United States.

“That oil is immediately shipped overseas and we are tired of it,” she said. “We are sick and tired of the U.S. taking care of everyone else first and not its own people.”

For truckers who will be on the road and who can’t attend the forum, comments can be e-mailed to Baird’s district director, Kelly Love, at kelly.love@mail.house.gov.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer