A group of independent log truckers
protesting in the state of
are beginning to see big progress in their fight for a larger fuel surcharge.
More than 120 log truckers parked their
trucks on Wednesday, Aug. 10. They plan to stay parked until the four major
timber companies in the area – Weyerhaeuser, Rayonier, Simpson Timber and
Sierra Pacific – agree to give the truckers a larger fuel surcharge.
Rick Smith, president of the Twin Harbors
Division of the Northwest Log Truckers’ Cooperative, said so far, three
of the four companies – all except for Rayonier – are
cooperating in negotiating a larger percentage.
“We got some increases, and we got more awareness out there with these
timber companies that they can’t take advantage of us anymore,” Smith said.
“And that’s what we were after.”
Smith said the protesting truckers – about 60
to 70 who parked their rigs in
to 60 who parked in
– are asking for a
larger fuel surcharge. The truckers want an amount equal to 20 percent to 23
percent of their freight rates. The companies are currently paying them a fuel
surcharge equal to 9 percent to 13 percent of the freight rate.
“It’s not a rate increase,” Smith told Land Line. “That’s just a fuel surcharge
increase to help us pay for our fuel.”
Smith said the protesters, who were organized
and educated by his organization, would not return to work until their demand
for an adequate surcharge was met. He estimated that about 80 percent of the
drivers involved in the protest are owner-operators.
“When they get up to where we can get back to
work, we’re going back to work,” Smith said. “None of us want to be here –
trust me. We’ve got families to take care of and bills to pay. It’s just time
to say enough’s enough, and until we get what we want, we’re just going to have
to sit out.”
protest began on the same day as a protest in South Florida, where more than
600 trucks convoyed to the
to ask the
state legislature to pass a mandatory fuel surcharge.
However, Smith said his organization wasn’t
even aware of the other protest happening.
“That’s kind of ironic, but no, I hadn’t even
heard of that,” Smith said. “We’ve been so busy doing what we’re doing, most of us haven’t seen a TV for two days.”
The lack of a decent fuel surcharge
percentage has put many truckers in the area out of business, Smith said.
“We’ve tried to make it by borrowing this and
borrowing that to keep going,” Smith said. “We’re at the point where the co-op
has educated us enough to be businessmen, and we don’t want to drag community
people we do business with down with us.”
– By Aaron
Ladage, staff writer