California truckers protest over carriers' share fuel surcharge

| 4/29/2004

A group of truckers pulled their rigs to the side of the road in California earlier this week as part of a protest over the failure of carriers to pass on the full fuel surcharge, news sources said.

According to The Sacramento Bee, several hundred truckers took part.

During the protest, which took place Monday, a group of independent truckers stood along Roth Road and Interstate 5 with signs saying "Stop Free Work" and "Fuel 2.15," the Manteca Bulletin reported. Roth Road crosses the interstate near mile marker 465 on the north side of Manteca, a town that sits directly east of the San Francisco Bay area.

The truckers focused on the fuel surcharge, saying carriers are keeping 70 percent of it, the newspaper said. But they also noted other aspects of their tight financial situation – including low freight rates, California’s higher fuel prices (and that the surcharge they do receive is based on the national average, not the California price) and the lack of health and other insurance benefits.

The truckers started their protests at freight terminals operated by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroads in and near Stockton, CA, on Monday, The Bee said. But their dispute centers not on those railroads, but on the carriers who contract with them to carry freight.

One carrier told the Sacramento newspaper that enough truckers had parked to reduce his company to 30 percent to 40 percent of its normal traffic.

"This is the best way to get our point across," trucker Victor Santana told the Bulletin. "We're just fighting for the rights we should have."

The truckers taking part in the protest are not alone. OOIDA and Land Line have heard from several other truckers who have parked their rigs due to high fuel prices.

 “Virtually every trucker is significantly impacted by the run up in fuel costs and the possibility that costs may keep climbing,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said.

The problem is particularly bad in California, which over the past year has consistently produced the nation’s highest diesel prices. This week, the federal Department of Energy said the national average price of diesel was $1.718; however, in California, it was $2.247.

Both the truckers taking part in the protest and other industry players predicted that the protests would continue – and spread.