What American Truckers Really Want: A Place to Sleep
The American Teamsters Union released a statement on Thursday saying he “denounces” the blockade, adding: “Our members are some of the hardest working people in the country and are being prevented from doing their jobs”.
A leader of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a coalition representing over 150,000 independent truckers drivers in the United States, echoed that sentiment in an interview on Wednesday.
“I don’t support any disruption or destruction,” said Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of OOIDA and longtime truck driver. While the group opposes the cross-border vaccination mandate that inspired the Canadian protests, Pugh said the protests are beginning to cost truckers public support and goodwill.
And the industry’s largest trade group, the American Trucking Associations, said Thursday it “strongly opposes any protest activity that disrupts public safety and jeopardizes the economic and national security of the United States.” .
Of course, many of the country’s roughly 3.5 million truckers are free to disagree. But despite all the talk on Facebook and elsewhere about the truck convoy protests getting in the way of the Super Bowl or other facets of life in the United States, the rhetoric from its supporters doesn’t generally focus on trucker-specific issues. . The largest of these groups, “The People’s Convoy”, urges citizens to join it in “bringing back our liberties, our civil liberties and ending all unconstitutional mandates”.
U.S. truckers have been largely exempt from such mandates — constitutional or otherwise — since November, when Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the Biden administration’s vaccine or test requirement for many private sector employees would not affect truckers whose workplace is “a self-driving taxi”. The Supreme Court drove the final nail in by suspending the entire term last month.
Trucking group ATA, which fought against those mandates, takes a victory lap during a virtual event on Friday, billed as “How ATA Stopped the Vaccination Mandate.”
Not that truckers still don’t have a long list of blames for Washington. Pugh said they have long complained about costly and burdensome regulations. Meanwhile, they have had limited success in pushing Congress to help expand the supply of overnight parking spots for truckers, a chronic burden on truckers’ quality of life. Advocates for large and small trucking companies have also been embroiled in an intra-industry dispute over a federal mandate requiring the use of electronic devices to track truckers’ driving time.
“Every administration promises you this and promises you that,” Pugh said, adding, “Parking is in crisis in this industry. Truckers should at least be able to have a safe place to park and sleep at night. once, they don’t understand.
Pugh said he understood some truck drivers’ anger over Canada’s vaccine mandates, calling it simply “the straw that broke the camel’s back” after years of governments ignoring their needs.
The industry is also devoting considerable effort to the issues surrounding the use of electronic recording devices to track driving hours and safety and environmental regulations, and currently has its hands full of grumbling from the supply chain and not enough drivers to meet demand.
But if a trucker protest convoy arrives in Washington, it would not be a new phenomenon.
In May 2020, near the start of the pandemic, dozens of truck drivers blew their horns around the White House to oppose low shipping rates, certain safety rules and the threat that vehicles self-driving cars eliminate some trucking jobs.
Seven years earlier, threats by right-wing activists to block the ring road with a million large trucks failed, attracting around 30 participants and little noticeable effect on traffic.
Even Brian Brase, one of the leaders of the movement for a copycat convoy in the United States, also organizes an annual apolitical convoy in Washington to promote trucking, the website for which he claims to oppose “protests, closings or strikes”. These trucks park legally on the National Mall, and the drivers have spoken to federal officials at past events.
Past videos of the annual trucking convoy include interviews with drivers seeking better rates, fewer driving time regulations and more parking spaces for large trucks.