Truckers in Washington state to meet with U.S. representative on Friday

| 8/7/2008

Truckers in Washington state have a unique opportunity on Friday, Aug. 8, to voice their concerns about the hardships they are facing to keep their businesses afloat amid escalating fuel prices and unstable economic conditions.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-WA, has scheduled a community forum with truckers from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at W.F. West High School in Chehalis, WA. Baird sits on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which is a key committee for truckers’ concerns.

Garrett Russo, communications director in Baird’s Washington, DC, office, said Friday’s forum is an opportunity for truckers in Southwest Washington to have a sit-down with Baird to discuss some of their concerns.

“What we’re finding out is that a lot of these guys have small family-owned businesses that are just getting hammered by fuel prices, and we’re looking for solutions to help them,” Russo told Land Line on Thursday, Aug. 7. “It’s the big issue facing the district. There are a lot of logging and small-business truckers that are hurting.”

Russo said one of the key questions log truckers in Washington state want Baird to address is their inability to negotiate their log-hauling prices in relation to their costs. He said high fuel prices are another main concern for truckers.

“We might not like to pay $4 a gallon for gas, but we can always carpool or drive less, but this isn’t an option for truckers,” he said. “These guys can’t drive less. It’s their job to get things from Point A to Point B and get it on the shelves for all of us. We are going to see what we can do about helping them in some way, shape or form.”

He said Southwest Washington is really feeling the pinch of the country’s economic downturn and that the unemployment rate in some counties there is pushing between 7 percent and 8 percent. He said this is higher than in other parts of the state.

OOIDA member Sherrie Bond, who has been instrumental in organizing the forum in Chehalis on Friday, said she has been in contact with Kelly Love, Baird’s district director in Washington state. Bond said Love told her she has received more than 200 e-mails in recent days regarding truckers’ plight.

“She said they were just stunned with the response,” Bond told Land Line on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Click here to read OOIDA’s Call to Action on Friday’s forum in Chehalis.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer