OOIDA puts a face on the fuel crisis: ‘Truckers are consumers, too’

| Friday, March 28, 2008

It’s no secret to truckers that the cost of fuel has an impact on the cost of everything, but mainstream media and the general public sometimes have trouble connecting those dots.

In an attempt to help American consumers understand that truckers are also currently in crisis because of fuel prices and the economic downturn, OOIDA is taking a simple but direct message to the streets: “Don’t blame truckers for rising costs at store shelves.”

In a news release distributed nationally on Friday, March 28, leaders of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association came directly to the point.

“The rising costs of food and other goods caused by diesel fuel price hikes should not be laid at the feet of independent truckers,” the news release stated.

The release explains how fuel surcharges are being collected but not being passed along 100 percent to the truckers who are actually paying for the fuel. Click here to read the complete OOIDA message.

In addition to raising public awareness about the difficulties truckers currently face, OOIDA leaders and staff are also fielding dozens of media inquiries every day about whether drivers will strike. The media also want to know what impact a strike would have on the price of diesel and the prices of the products that are delivered by trucks, which are fueled with that diesel.

“We are repeatedly asked by the media if a strike will have an impact and so we remind them that it’s not just about one day, or one week; it’s about the longer term if diesel prices do not change. Truckers are consumers, too,” said Norita Taylor, OOIDA media spokesperson.

Truckers themselves are also speaking out about the situation. Here are excerpts from comments received at Land Line this week.

  • “I, for one, don’t think the shutdown will work either. It never has before,” wrote Eileen. “If truckers would just refuse to haul cheap freight, we would all be better off.”

 

  • “Brokers will not disclose how much they are being paid on the load or how much of a fuel surcharge they are receiving. When we ask we are told the load is covered, wrote Misti. “So we can urge the brokers all we want, but it will not change their practices. All we can do as owner-operators is not take a load unless it pays. That is the bottom line. As far as staying compliant, until shippers and receivers respect truck drivers and are held accountable for delaying loading and unloading, most drivers will never be able to run compliant.”
  • “I heard a lot about April 1, that truckers are going to shut down for a few days. I know OOIDA cannot encourage a strike, and I’m just not sure if there is any one person or organization that is backing this up,” wrote Carl. “I think it’s about time we all go ahead and voice our opinions. I notice on the load boards there are still a lot of brokers trying to move freight at $1 a mile. What is it going to take?”

 

  • “I am not asking OOIDA to sanction a strike. ... We need to get more drivers involved. If there were more drivers writing letters and contacting their reps and congressmen in Washington we might be heard,” wrote Bobby.

OOIDA leaders say that while the Association cannot legally support a strike, it can and does support individual truckers. The Association also encourages individual truckers to contact their lawmakers now about the fuel situation.

“We do not tell our members what to do; instead, they inform us of what they ARE doing and we support their decisions,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.

Spencer said that truckers need to make it known to their elected officials that they are being exploited in the current fuel situation and that action needs to be taken to change the industry.

“Lawmakers need to know what’s going on in trucking, how devastating this record hike in fuel prices is for 90 percent of the nation’s fleet,” added Spencer.

“There is a disproportionate burden being placed on small-business owners who are truck drivers because they depend upon diesel to run their businesses. If diesel is the lifeblood of ground transportation, then truckers are the heart. And many are in need of life support.”

OOIDA would like Congress to enact legislation mandating 100 percent pass-through of fuel surcharges and full transparency in those transactions.

– Coral Beach, staff editor
coral_beach@landlinemag.com

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