First we had the shutdown of the US Government, now we have a call to shut down the economy. A group called “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” has called for one million truckers to drive to Washington DC on October 11 – 13, 2013. The group is also calling for all Americans to not conduct any business during these three days. If this protest is successful it could cripple the economy.
It is difficult to get an accurate estimate as to exactly how many goods are shipped by truck in the United States but it is estimated that between 75 and 90% of all consumer goods are placed on a truck at some point, depending on the reports definition of exactly what a truck is. The group calling for the protest mostly consists mainly of tractor trailer trucks driven by independent owner-operators. This group is also calling for all trucks and consumers to join the movement.
There have been attempts by independent truckers to shut down the country in the past, the most recent in June, 2004 when truckers shut down several ports throughout the country. The strike lasted only a few days and was relatively ineffective. The most successful strike by independent truckers was in the summer of 1979 when an estimated 100,000 independent truckers stopped hauling freight. This action caused some factories, such as Chrysler, to temporarily shut down. The 1979 strike was mostly in response to higher fuel prices that were forcing many independent truckers out of business.
Tomorrow’s strike appears to have several goals. According to the group’s Facebook page, their second, after the first was shut down, “The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers! The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a national protest in support of our nation’s truckers on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers! Truckers will lead the path to saving our country if every American rides with them!” The Facebook page currently has over 100,000 likes.
Researching links obtained from this Facebook page finds other possible reasons. According to a post on “Reagan Coalition.com” the reasons are, “remove Obama from office for crimes of treason and misdemeanors. We want Congressional hearing on Benghazi and Seal Team 6. Louis Learner put in jail. No amnesty, remove all Muslims in our government that do not uphold the Constitution. Remove Eric Holder from office for crimes against the people and the Constitution. Last but not least is Fuel prices.”
On the website with the same name of the Facebook page, “Ride for the Constitution.org” is a press release listing five more reasonable demands including changes to “Hours of Service” rules, insurance rating systems, the CSA crash rating system, more parking for trucks and some emissions standards, all of which add cost to truckers and trucking companies. Another document found on the same website says the reason for the protest is the fact that independent truckers are working for below minimum wage and paying high fuel prices. Attempts to contact individuals linked to both the Facebook page and the website have been unsuccessful.
Earlier this week there was also a call to shut down the beltway, the interstate which circles Washington, DC, by asking truckers to block traffic causing major traffic jams. The organizer of this action, Georgia trucker Earl Conlon has since said this was all a hoax to gain attention. This also appears to be separate from the shutdown and drive to Washington.
There are several associations for independent truckers, mostly which help with providing insurance, legal help, business advice and truck financing. According to a statement received by email from one of these associations, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) the majority of their members “have no interest in the event or group.” In addition OOIDA does “not support assembling in an unlawful, unpermitted manner; committing crimes; making threats on lawmakers; or behaving in such a way to cast the trucking industry in a negative light.” The American Trucking Association also made a similar statement on Wednesday.
There may be two important things participants and advocates are overlooking. First, the majority of independent truckers own their own trucks. If they are not hauling freight they are not receiving income and they will not be able to pay their bills. This could also have an impact on just how long this action lasts. Would shutting down over a weekend have much of an effect?
The second point was raised by Dean D. Garrison on the “D.C. Clothesline” blog who wrote, “If they pull this off and it causes food and fuel shortages it could give Mr. Obama the excuse he has been looking for to declare a temporary state of martial law.” This has long been a concern of conspiracy theorists throughout the country who believe that President Barack Obama wants to rule the country. There are also unconfirmed reports that President Obama has activated the National Guard in the areas surrounding DC.
While this proposed action could potentially cause serious problems with the economy the likelihood of it having much impact is slim. There is no support from the large trucking companies, most of which are unionized. There has been no mention by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the largest of the unions representing truck drivers on the strike. In the event of a shutdown by the truckers any freight not transported by the independent truckers would be delivered by these companies.
Written by: Paul Roy