Truckers continue grassroots campaign to motivate New York lawmakers

| 5/2/2008

Across the country, truckers have started grass-roots movements in several states to wake up their lawmakers to the harsh realities many drivers are facing – losing their livelihoods as high fuel prices and a rocky economy continue to beat up the industry.

In New York, owner-operators, company drivers and trucking company owners are all banding together and pounding the phones to get the message out to their lawmakers that they are running out of time.

On Wednesday, April 30, OOIDA member Paul Looman of Gloversville, NY, addressed the New York State Assembly about how high fuel prices and high tolls on the New York Thruway are depleting his and other truckers’ resources.

“I told them that high fuel prices and high toll prices that truckers are forced to pay on the Thruway are breaking the backs of truckers who are trying to make a living,” Looman told Land Line on Friday, May 2. “Farmers around here are hurting as well.”

Looman said speaking before the Assembly was a little “overwhelming,” but worth every minute if something good comes from it.

“They must have like what I had to say because they applauded when I was done,” he said.

He said another round of phone calls is planned for next week to keep the pressure on lawmakers in New York.

Looman said New York Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, both have recognized truckers’ importance to the state’s economy, and are working with the truckers to get them some relief.

Amedore and Lopez also arranged a roundtable discussion with other lawmakers, truckers and businessmen on fuel issues on April 17 at a truck stop in Fultonville, NY.

One New York trucking company owner, Butch Mix, who owns Sunshine Bulk Commodities Inc., in Clifton Springs, NY, has 65 trucks. He has started making phone calls to lawmakers as well.

Mix has been in the trucking business since 1975. Skyrocketing fuel prices and the rising costs of doing business have caused him to take a hard look at how he’s running his company.

“It’s getting harder and harder to survive in this business and make a profit,” he told Land Line on Friday, May 2.

The costs for parts and tires have gone way up in price, too, which is hurting his trucking company’s profits. Mix said his customers all pay a different fuel surcharge, ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent, which he said is hard to figure his operating costs.

“I have started looking at some of my customers who can’t or won’t pass on a fuel surcharge and I have to decide if I want to continue to do business with them anymore,” Mix said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer