By on March 24, 2008

dan-little.jpg"Call it a strike, a shutdown or just flat-ass going broke.” That's how independent trucker/cattle hauler Dan Little describes his intention to pull over on April first. The Quad City Times reports that "what started as a small, online grassroots effort now appears to have the potential for something bigger." Little's website– uscattlehaulers.com— is the locus for the one-day action. He's calling for a suspension of all federal and state fuel taxes, insurance changes and countrywide uniformity in safety regs. Little says he has two thousand truckers pledging their participation. Little does not have the support of either the all-important Teamsters Union (800k+ truckers) or the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (160k+ small trucking companies and drivers). But the Industrial Workers of the World (16k members) told TTAC they're putting the idea to a vote on Wednesday at 6pm. Meanwhile, in an interview [podcast below], Little says Hillary Clinton's office called twice "for background." Developing…

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33 Comments on “April Fool’s Day Truckers’ “Shutdown” Gains Momentum...”


  • avatar

    Robert,

    I still remember how the UK fuel protests in September of 2000 had long lasting and dramatic effects. I see this as going either way, a dramatic and history changing event… or an event only covered by Iowa.

    I’m sure you remember the strike… you lived there when it happened!

  • avatar

    Shut down the country. HUGE gas lines.

    The UK government created [military] plans to ensure it won’t happen again. But fuel prices were never rolled back.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I don’t know, I think they are taking too narrow a stance in this strike. Perhaps they should have added the annexation of one or more states to their list of demands…

  • avatar

    I remember the Farmer’s strike in DC 1978. I was an idiotes then, hardly ever following the news. I lived in Arlington and worked in Bethesda. That morning I drove about a quarter mile until traffic stopped. I went home and called in. My boss told me about the strike and said that tractors had tied up all the main roads. I got on my moped and drove between all the stopped cars. That night we saw police breaking cab windows and throwing tear gas inside. Nowadays they’d probably taze them.

  • avatar
    1981.911.SC

    Well, this will sound bad, but, April 1 might be a great day to go for a drive. Fewer trucks on the road is a good thing.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Roll back taxes, price goes down, demand goes up, prices go back up again. Go for it! While prices are down, I’m loading up every empty milk jug, 2 liter pop bottle and 40 year old 5 gallon ironside I have for the diesel I need to make hay this summer.
    I think it would be a lot more useful as a demand to call on the fed gov’t for increased production capability for diesel via incentives or something. It seems like their demands are a little narrow-minded, although I’m not an expert as to their insurance situation admittedly.
    This past summer I had truckers coming for hay to go to drought-stricken areas (more severe than southern Ohio) coming to pick up LOTS of hay. The two I helped load up (and load and load and load) said they were making more money than ever, but were concerned about USA “open borders” trucking with Mexico threatening their jobs. That influx of cheap labor/trucking seems like a greater threat to their livelihood than expensive diesel, but maybe that’s just me. When I don’t feel like thinking I just blame Walmart for all the national wrongs.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    @1981.911.SC

    I was thinking the same thing! Imagine the open road without all those rolling warehouses!

    Shipping should put more focus on rail than highways anyway.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    State and federal taxes on diesel average something like $0.46/gallon. Great idea, let’s eliminate 10-15% of the price of diesel (and the only portion that’s actually going to serve a beneficial purpose) to give truckers a break. I’m sure the prices won’t go up any further.

    Maybe they’d be better off putting their political clout behind politicians who actually engage in policies that don’t promote high oil prices.

  • avatar
    bleach

    I don’t see this strike gaining traction beyond independents. They are the group getting squeezed hardest by the fuel costs since they are typically paid by the mile and responsible for their own costs. Meanwhile the larger trucking companies will charge the customer a fuel surcharge to recoup the extra cost of diesel.

    The independents would have a easier time striking for a higher pay rate per mile from the major freight carriers than getting taxes rolled back.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Interesting observation when he spoke of being taxed twice on the same fuel when he crosses a state line.

    My BS detector is going off. I can understand if he is paying STATE taxes in multiple states. But I doubt he is billed twice for the same FEDERAL tax. And to him, that looks like double taxation.

    A state demanding their taxes for using their roads makes sense. Otherwise in some areas a truck could cross the state line, fill up, then come back.

    I suppose that states could implement a tax solution on diesel like New Zealand has. In NZ, you pre-pay a tax for kilometers on your diesel vehicle. They then give you a windshield sticker that states what the mileage can go up to.

    States could, with a transponder system at their borders, trigger a mileage tracker system that then bills their owner. With current technology, a tracker could also use GPS to track which state a truck is in, and how many miles it has driven in that state.

    If the states (Canada too) got together and standardized on how to track and collect, then the tax agencies themselves could pay for these devices and still come out ahead.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Bluenozer,

    The primary reasons for rail losing out to truck are the income tax (and other payroll taxes) and NIMBYism.

    Rails can’t get near cities anymore, so that is easy to understand.

    The tax thing is all about the total cost to move anything being based more on man hours than fuel efficiency. Even at $10/gallon, the cost of transfering from truck, to rail, to truck again is not competitive due to the insanity of taxing productivity over consumption.

  • avatar
    trucker3942

    My husband has been an independent truck driver for over 13 years and for the most part loves his job. It takes a certain kind of person to be a truck driver, you gotta love it to do it. For the most part he has made a good living for us but lately it has been tough. I don't think many people that are not in the trucking business understand how tough it is for these drivers. The fuel is going up, everything you buy is going up (just check your local stores prices and compare them to a year ago, or heck even a few months ago!)yet the pay rate for not only the truckers but for just about everyone I know is not keeping up. I cringe when I have to fill up my van can you imagine what its like for the truckers. It wouldn't be as bad if the rates for their loads would increase as steadily as the fuel increases. Yes the fuel surcharges help but they are not enough. Sometimes I think people forget that its the truck drivers that bring to them just about EVERYTHING they use every day of their lives. What do you thing they would do if those things stopped being delivered to them? This country could not survive without the independent truckers, its time they get some respect and some backing. I hope everyone does decide to stick together and strike it probably won't solve much but maybe it will at least make people open their eyes and see things a little more clearly.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Trucker,

    I wish you and your husband the best. I wonder though, if he is “independent” why does he need to strike? I don’t get how the whole thing works with truckers. Personally, if someone offers me a job at too low a price, I reject it. If I collude with my competitors, I am breaking the law. Sounds to me like “indpendent trucker” is an oxymoron.

    The current price of diesel is a direct result of government interference on EVERY level. Perhaps when your husband is at the next union meeting, he can ask why the government officials they paid for with their dues stopped the oil companies from building more and higher efficiency diesel refineries. If their union had been supporting pro-business, rather than pro-socialist candidates you would likely not be in this position now.

    One of my best friends is about to give up teaching. She realized a few years back that the teacher’s union had quite directly worked to get liberals in power that, in turn, lead to laws, regulations, and court decisions that have now made it impossible to do her job. There is no discipline in her school at all anymore. She finally figured out that the net benefit of the union is negative.

  • avatar
    bad habit

    I like these people that want trains to handle all the freight!!! I can just see it now: railroad crossings in walmart parking lots, grocery store lots and gas stations.Lol these people crack me up. I say we shut down and let rail handle it. Your new car is on the way!!! It left CA last week it will be here in about 2 months, if they dont lose it in one of the rail yards.Your bread? yes it is old, it took a month to get here! What do expect?! And I hope gas stations are made larger so trains can pull in and
    fill up. Shouldn’t be a problem there because they will be delivering the gas too. Lol LOl Lol I like those people that try to use that ONE little brain cell they have.

  • avatar
    starhauler

    As a company driver I do not fork the bucks out of my pocket at the fuel pumps for fuel! I do it every time I purchase a product, service, utility or look at the levies on the ballot wanting more taxes to pay for school bus fuel, police fuel, utility company fuel and the list goes on, WE ALL DO!
    You might not see it yourself as well as through the eyes of your wife or son or daughter trying to make ends meet. I suggest you ask them what they have put back upon the shelf at the grocery store as being to high priced.
    It does not matter if we can pass on to the consumer the cost of fuel. The bottom line is in today’s economy we are at a point where if consumers can not buy a product we will have nothing to haul.
    Ladies and gentlemen there can be a voluntary shut down on your part in order to try and get congress to come to reality. Face it when those in power being driven in limos pay $4,500 for a hour with a woman do you really think they care about a senior citizen trying to live on $15,000 a year?
    A Michigan Congressman Dingy wants to impose a 50 cent tax per gallon on gasoline! Tell that to those commuting 100 miles a day because of the lack of jobs within their locality! What products will they cease to buy that we haul?
    I will not get into our shipping delays, lack of parking, DOT waking us up and all the other hassles we face.
    Bottom line if consumers can not buy products we haul we all are screwed!
    Lastly slow down? Yes slow down from 65 mph to 55 mph you will get better fuel mileage! Let’s see here 10 mile per hour is $4.00 a hour lost in wages if your getting .40 a mile, a ten hour driving period try $16.00 a day times say 5 days a week that’s $80 a week times 50 weeks in a year $4000 a year in lost wages, I wonder if anyone thought about that?
    Oh very last thought if you have it, your buying it, your using it chances are a truck brought it!

  • avatar
    Yo Daddy

    For the guy who does not understand trucking maybe it would help you to understand if you paid half of your wages for gas to get you to work you’d probable join the truckers strike.Someone explain to me how we can have a shortage of oil yet the oil companies make record profit’s.If that’s the case then lets declare a shortage of trucks and lets charge 20.00 dollars per mile seems fair to me.Theres plenty of oil and plenty of trucks.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Yo Daddy,

    No, Yo, if I paid half my wages to get to work I would ask for a raise and start looking for another job. If enough of the other workers did the same, then the wage would rise without a strike. The part of trucking I don’t understand is how “independent” truckers can be unionized. It’s an oxymoron.

    The shortage of oil is precisely the reason for the oil companies’ profits. They own millions of barrels of oil that are still in the ground. The shortage of oil coming to market leads to higher prices, which should lead to more drilling. Unfortunately, too much of the process is now government controlled throughout the world so the market cannot quite work as it ought. People whose ideas of economics are in line with the thinking of the union folks are actually the ones causing all the problems. They both believe in the economics of scarcity.

    If enough drivers quit, there will be a shortage of truck drivers, and the price will increase. However, if you charged $20/ mile then the shortage of drivers would end, and/or inflation would cause the $20 to be would be enough for a burger and fries.

  • avatar
    Yo Daddy

    the only drivers that are in a union are company drivers like ups yellow freight or roadway they are in the teamsters not independants

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Then I still don’t get it. A trucker should just raise his price until he makes adequate profit. The costs are in his favor are they not? Who will undercut him?

  • avatar
    Yo Daddy

    there is shortage of drivers for those wanting to drive a company truck for a large trucking company like swift jb hunt they have thousands of trux the fed used to pay part of their drivers wages for hiring inexperienced drivers their profit margin is less per truck but is made in the large number trux. kinda like walmart putting the little guy out.and the bush admin.has been trying to get mexican trux to come here but the congress has blocked because of safty. in years to come there will be onlty a few large truckin companys just like theres a few large oil companys then the rates will soar like gas prices and we will have to accept it

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    There are dozens of midsized, and thousands of small oil companies. The price of oil is not a result of large companies making it so.

    If the large companies are using predatory pricing to force out the small guys, then you have legal options. If you are tired of all the subisidization of other transport, then call your congressman and tell them to stop it. Better yet, vote for someone against market manipulation by the government.

  • avatar
    Yo Daddy

    do you think the current admin. has been good for economy?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    No, but I do believe the tax cuts helped. Overall, though the admin has been bad. However, none of that has any relevance to this issue. This is a simple economics issue. If you can find a truly fiscally conservative candidate, vote for them. There are few left though.

  • avatar
    Yo Daddy

    we found something to agree on LOL vote god bless

  • avatar
    Dan.K

    simple supply and demand. You lower the price of gas, people will buy more of it until the price goes back to its previous amount. Except now, its the gas companies getting the extra $.50, not the government. Of every gallon bought, the $.50 that goes to the government is the only useful part.

    And to all you people complaining that trucking doesn’t pay enough, go out there and prove that you deserve that bigger paycheck. Anyone can drive, so naturally the pay is going to be crap (also supply and demand). if you want more money, go ahead and get a real job.

  • avatar
    soupdog06

    Wanna say i give my support 100 percent,,, i to haul a lil hay in the summer as well as have a small towing company where i use a diesel pickup,,,,it has been getting rough trying to make ends meet with the higher costs ivolved now,,,i think there should be government intervention like maybe as far as nationalizing the oil industry. Right now its dog eat dog in this country and it isn’t getting any better.The people in charge of these oil companies only want to make their share holders more money and dont care what the costs are to the truckers or the ones buying at the grocery stores OR heating oil for their homes,,whatever it all trickles from those prices,, imagine if the farmners said there is a shortage of cows or corn,,,AND THE PRICES SHOT UP TO TRIPLE OF WJHAT THEY WERE A YEAR AGO!!!then what,,,,bet you they would send in the national guard on that one,,,but they the farmers like me WHo have small herds arent getting any more money for our products,,,,kinda hard to justify one industry raping the economy and getting away with it

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    You guys are completely missing the point.

    Dan K.

    You are only understanding half the supply and demand thing. For over one hundred years, high oil profits have created the motivation for further exploration and production. They continue to do so, just like every economist will agree.

    The problem is interference by several government industries foreign and domestic which are creating externalities which are reducing the desire to take the risk of expansion or forbidding it outright. This prevents expansion and drives up the price by keeping a lid on supply. Every economist will agree with this, too.

    Lastly, trucking is more complicated than being able to drive, and driving a big rig takes much more skills, has inherent risks, and is hard work. Not any idiot can do it, and if you drive a car, you would be best to hope that the truck next to you is not driven by an idiot either.

    soupdog,

    Nationalizing the oil companies will only worsen the problems. You need to pass along the higher prices to your customers. If you can’t be bothered to put up with the trouble of asking for more money and hussling for more business then get out of the game. That is the hardest part of the job.

    Keep up your present state of mind, and you will just give yourself a heart attack or stroke.

    Here is some $150 an hour advice for free. When your suppliers raise your price, shop the market. If you can’t get a better value, then raise your price to your customers to compensate. Just remember, when your prices fall, if you don’t lower your price, your customers will eventually find out and dump you. That’s the way a free market works. For any other type of market, please read about post WWII Soviet economy at your local library.

  • avatar
    Dan.K

    no, the reason no more oil is being found is because there is no more to find. Of the little there is left, the cost to drill to it is much greater than the profits, so they do not bother.

    I’m sure trucking takes tons of skill. Turning a wheel can get pretty hard after a while. Just because you do it doesn’t mean it takes tons of skill; it means quite the contrary.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Dan,

    I am not a trucker, but I do know (because I was once responsible for a fleet of over 40 trucks) that it takes more than being able to turn a wheel. Operating the truck itself can be mastered by most folks with some training. Like flying planes (which I do for fun, and sometimes for work), judgement is key. Not all truckers have enough of it, but I don’t think they deserve you insulting them with such a broad brush. Truckers also have to have many other skills to deal with maintenance, material safety, and a large of tax and licensing bureaucracy. Add to that the time away from friends and family, and it is not something any idiot can do.

    I wonder what sort of brilliance it takes to do what you do? Only someone with a serious lack of sense would believe what you do about the oil situation. Even the most ardent peak oil devotees should know better than that. Perhaps you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the web.

  • avatar
    Dan.K

    I’m sure it takes much precision to drive on roads. its not like the lines are marked for you. Currently, I learn and work as a server techie. Both of which require much more “brilliance” than driving a truck. You say trucking is so hard? Show me some proof. I’ve done “material safety” with things more dangerous than the average truck carries. You believe that the oil situation is different? Show me some proof. Where are the deposits of oil (other than in nature preserves, that is)?

    Anyone can say a job requires more skill than one can imagine. However, saying that all jobs are equal because of it is nonsense. Even though it is harsh, it is the reality of the world that truck drivers will always be looked down on. I could go on, but would rather let you respond to these points first.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Dan,

    You completely missed my point about judgement, but I think we can all understand why.

  • avatar
    MAC-NHA

    The Hydrogen Education Foundation appreciates truck drivers’ concerns over high fuel costs. As the cost of fuel continues to increase, the general public, as well as truck drivers, is eager to explore alternative fuel solutions. One alternative solution currently being explored is using hydrogen as a fuel. Today, truck drivers have the ability to add a hydrogen injection system on to today’s trucks bypassing the need for a fueling infrastructure all together.

    The Canadian Hydrogen Energy Company (http://globaltech.ca) has developed a system that can be installed in existing technologies that would increase fuel saving by 10 percent (guaranteed). One great aspect of this system is no storage of hydrogen is necessary. The unit is an on-demand system that uses distilled water. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, the release of greenhouse gas emissions, with this technology, would be reduced by about 50 percent.

    We invite truck drivers to learn more about hydrogen by visiting the http://www.h2andyou.org.

  • avatar
    Dan.K

    wouldn’t it be more efficient to store the hydrogen as a liquid or solid (contained within bucky balls!)?

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