In a post three days ago, I reported on the threatened April 1 shutdown by independent truckers. Today, I take a look at the number of truck drivers likely to participate in the effort, the likelihood of the shutdown getting the attention of members of Congress and the impact such a shutdown is likely to have on both independent truckers and ordinary Americans.
Realizing it next to impossible to calculate an accurate number of truck drivers who will take part in this extremely serious April Fools Day effort, I’ve opted instead to crunch numbers to determine how many truckers might participate. In order to do that, I must first look at how many independent owner-operators and professional drivers are in the mix. To do that, I turned to one government source and one industry source:
- U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that almost 1.7 million people “drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 GVW, to transport and deliver goods, livestock, or materials in liquid, loose, or packaged form.”
- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association counts as members, according to a page of the OOIDA web site, more than 160,000 male and female drivers representing all 50 states and Canada. Collectively, they own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.
Based solely on the numbers above, a shutdown by all members of the OOIDA would result in almost 10 percent of the nation’s truckers being parked April 1. And, if you think a 100-percent participation rate would be impossible to achieve, think again.
In an article published March 27, OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston said “…we saw nearly 100 percent of truckers participating in strikes” as part of a larger statement about what he remembered as the desperate days of the ’70s:
“Even back in the 1970s, when we saw nearly 100 percent of truckers participating in strikes, it did not lower fuel prices,” Johnston said. “Short-term relief from the situation then was the result of a temporary implementation of a mandatory fuel surcharge.”
In short, the possibility of more than 160,000 drivers shutting down April 1 is real.
Dan Little, the Carrollton, Mo.-based operator I interviewed for the aforementioned post, told me his goal in shutting down tomorrow is, first, to get the attention of elected officials in Washington, D.C., and, in turn, generate action on their part to help fix the problems that prompted the shutdown in the first place.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe members of Congress have it within them the ability to address anything inside of a 24-hour period. Additionally, they don’t have as one of their top 435 priorities the needs of America’s independent truckers. Instead, re-election seems to be the top priority of most of the 435 members of Congress.
In truth, I don’t suspect a shutdown by independent truckers will impact most Americans at all. Instead, I believe the following chain of events will take place:
- Initially, the shutdown will result in shipments normally hauled by independents arriving one day late or being shipped using alternative carriers (i.e., companies that own large fleets of trucks, buy fuel by the thousands of gallons and, among other things, self-insure their fleets as means to lower costs);
- After independent truckers realize their one-day effort has failed to bring about the intended results, they will go on a full-fledged strike that will last only as long as their will power and wallets allow; and
- In much the same way as corporate farming interests have replaced family farming, the days of the independent trucker will come to a screeching halt and those who want to remain behind the wheel will have to be content working for “the man” or finding new lines of work.
Sadly, independent truckers, I think your days are numbered.
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Truck Shutdown Deemed ‘100 percent successful’ (4-02-08)
Truckers’ Shutdown Effort Produces Varied Results (4-01-08)
No Joke: Truckers to ‘Shut Down’ April 1 (3-28-08)