Fuel protestors ‘park it’ for one day in Western Pennsylvania

| 3/24/2008

A group of truckers northeast of Pittsburgh shut down for one day on Monday, March 24, to protest the high price of fuel.

Owner-operator Don Waltenbaugh, an OOIDA member from rural Vandergrift, PA, organized the event on property he owns about 30 minutes from the Steel City.

“Every car that goes by honks their horn in solidarity,” Waltenbaugh told Land Line Magazine on Monday.

As of noon Monday, Waltenbaugh said there were about 35 trucks and 60 people in attendance. Some people had come and gone, but many stayed, burning fires in empty barrels to keep warm.

The crowd included owner-operators, company drivers and retired drivers, along with a motorcycle repairman and several people not affiliated with trucking at all.

“That’s a statement right there,” Waltenbaugh said. “It’s hard to ask someone to take a day out of their week and not take any money to try to change something.”

Waltenbaugh is quick to clarify what the event was and what it was not.

“It’s not a strike; it’s a solidarity shutdown,” he said. “This is a litmus test to see if we can possibly, in sheer numbers, be able to have a full, one-day legitimate shutdown in Pennsylvania. It has to start somewhere, and it’s started.”

Vandergrift, located on Route Alternate 66, is a town of 26,000. Waltenbaugh said everybody knows everybody there.

“It’s a peaceable thing. It’s a voluntary thing. We’re hurting bad, and we desperately need to try to preserve our way of life right now,” he said.

– By David Tanner, staff writer