Truckers in Chehalis, WA, plan to stage another fuel protest rally on Saturday, June 20, to gain media and lawmakers’ attention about the dire situation they are facing as they continue to be squeezed by soaring fuel prices and falling freight rates.
This is the second protest OOIDA members Sherrie and Bob Bond have organized. The first one was back in April when fuel prices were at $4.20 a gallon. Sherrie Bond told Land Line Magazine on Thursday, June 19, that diesel has jumped to $5.09 a gallon where she lives.
“The situation is bad here – I know it’s bad everywhere – but we are seeing truckers right and left losing their trucks, losing their homes, losing everything because they can’t afford to put fuel in their tanks,” she said. “And we keep telling our lawmakers we need help and we need it now, but it seems like everyone has their fingers in their ears when we try and talk to them about our issues.”
The Bonds have invited a wide spectrum of people, including all of their state and local lawmakers and the governor, to speak to the truckers at the rally.
“We need an explanation on why it’s taking so long to get anything done to help us,” she said. “Fuel prices are killing everyone. From the farmer that can’t afford to put fuel in their equipment to consumers who can’t afford to buy gas, everyone is being affected and they have to know we need help – and we need it soon.”
She said even off-road diesel was selling for $4.70 on Wednesday, June 18.
Although the Bonds own five log trucks, they are only running one truck right now because of rocky economic conditions, she said.
“What’s sad is that after we pay the driver, pay everything, there is barely $200 left over for us. That’s barely enough to survive on,” she said.
The Bonds have been working with the Washington State Legislature to get laws on the books to allow log haulers to negotiate directly with timber owners for their hauling fees.
“Right now, this is archaic, but what we receive for hauling fees is what the loggers have negotiated with the timber companies. So we have a middleman in there that shouldn’t be there, but because of anti-trust risk we can’t go directly to the timber companies and say this is what we need,” she told Land Line in April.
“Right now, we can’t go to the loggers and say here’s my cost and here’s what I need to be able to do this for you in a cost-effective way and in a reliable professional manner without the threat of anti-trust suit.”
The Bonds also plan to educate protesters and lawmakers about the proposed federal legislation sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, and co-sponsored by Rep. Thomas Petri, R-WI, and Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-IN, titled “Truth in Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs Act,” or the “TRUCC Act.”
The bill, which is identified as HR5977, seeks to mandate 100 percent pass-through of fuel surcharges to whoever actually pays for the fuel. It would stop brokers and middlemen from making profits from fuel surcharges by not passing the surcharges along to the truckers. An identical bill – S2910 – has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH.
Sherrie Bond said they recently met with U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-WA, about how fuel prices are crushing truckers’ livelihoods in Washington State and across the country. She said while Baird wasn’t aware so many truckers were hurting as a result of high prices, she said he did seem willing to listen to possible solutions to help truckers.
“We suggested Rep. Baird organize a certified congressional field hearing in our state to take testimony from regular consumers or ‘end users,’ not testimony from Big Oil companies about the oil crisis,” she said. “We met with him in April and he said he would get back to us in about 45 days, so we are hopeful he can help us.”
OOIDA member Sam Little of Bonney Lake, WA, or “Singin’ Sam” as he’s widely known, is scheduled to be at Friday’s rally to entertain the crowd.
The rally is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at an open lot at Exit 72, west of Interstate 5, and visible from the interstate. Little will be performing a song titled “Trucker’s Shutdown” that he originally wrote and recorded during the 1970s energy crisis.
Sherrie Bond said she took a CD of the song to her local country music station. She said they offered to play “Singin’ Sam’s” song for two days leading up to the rally in Chehalis.
“The community has really been supportive of our plight and what we are doing,” she said. “We just need help, and we need it soon or more of us are going to go under.”
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
Editor’s note: For more information about the rally, contact Sherrie Bond at (360) 880-4818.