One Iowa newspaper reporter describes it as “a small, online grassroots effort (that) now appears to have the potential for something bigger.” That “something bigger” is a threatened nationwide shutdown by independent truck drivers — possibly hundreds of thousands of them — April 1.
Though set to take place on April Fools Day, the effort — launched with Dan Little, owner-operator of Little & Little Trucking, L.L.C., a livestock hauling company based in Carrollton, Mo. — is no laughing matter. It began two weeks ago when Little posted an open letter to his fellow independent truckers on USCATTLEHAULERS.com, a web site he set up to give trucking companies like his exposure to prospective shippers anywhere in the U.S.
In the letter, which is still available on the site, he vowed to shutdown his trucking company at 8 a.m. April 1, 2008, and no longer accept loads at any price until such time as the federal government puts into action a plan that will give all owner-operators some help. Components of that plan, as paraphrased from the letter, include the following:
- Suspension of all federal and state fuel taxes until such time that this economy is back on its feet;
- Creation of a federal oversight committee to oversee insurance premiums charged for Class 8 truck insurance;
- Creation of a more-level playing field for all trucking companies by not allowing large trucking companies to self-insure their fleets;
- Enforcement of federal regulations — that include set maximum amounts for violations — for brokers and shippers; and
- Standardization of fines from coast to coast.
Little added that he would not return to hauling until “the people we put into office get off their butts and do something to help this Industry.”
He closed the letter by offering his e-mail address — dlittle (a) uscattlehaulers (dot) com — and asking truckers who plan to shut down on April 1 to let him know by e-mail.
It’s important to note that Little isn’t calling it a strike. In fact, during a telephone interview with this blogger this morning, Little emphatically said, “We don’t want a strike,” before adding that many of his colleagues in the world of independent trucking aren’t so quick to agree with him.
He explained that he had received more than a thousand e-mails from truckers who wrote to let him know they are ready to go on strike now. Among them were two drivers associations — both in Florida — with a combined total of more than 100,000 trucks.
While this blogger doesn’t necessarily agree with every component of the plan highlighted above, I do agree with Little and his fellow independent truck drivers that something must be done in order to fix an industry vital to this nation’s security.
If you don’t think this shutdown will impact your life, think about this: The average grocery store maintains only a few days stock of perishable goods and a few weeks worth of nonperishables; therefore, if the shutdown — and, possibly, a strike — lasts longer than three days, you’re likely to feel an impact whether you want to or not.
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