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January 13, 2019


The Life Force Of America Could Grind To A Halt Within Days: 'Black Smoke Matters' Upcoming Trucker Strike Grows - Shortages Will Materialize Quickly And Could Lead To Civil Unrest

"If I could tell everybody something about trucking, it would be that there are heartbeats in the truck"

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By Susan Duclos - All News PipeLine

A couple of links over at Steve Quayle's website on Sunday caught my eye: First one about upcoming Trucker's strike scheduled for April 12, 2019 and the second one from Business Insider explaining exactly what to expect if long-haul truckers stopped, from day one, into the day two-three scenario, then as long as a week, and it isn't pretty.

The first story about the planned Trucker's strike itself was written on January 2, 2019, detailing how a Facebook group called "Black Smoke Matters" is calling for a one day nationwide strike on April 12, 2019,  to protest the "state of trucking."  As of that Jan. 2 story the group's Facebook page had 9,000 members, the same number referred to in an interview with Charles Claburn, the organizer of the event, published on January 11, 2019.

By Sunday, January 13, that Facebook group had nearly doubled in numbers to almost 18,000 members, with over 10,000 joining in the last 30 days. 

While Claburn's group "Truckers Stand As One," is not part of a union, the members are scattered all across the country, and at the rate of growth seen over the last 30 days, we are talking tens of thousands of truckers potentially participating by the time April rolls around.

The goal is garner attention to issues harming truckers, in an industry that is already seeing a shortage of drivers, that is expected to triple to 175,000 drivers by 2026. In Claburn's interview he lists the issues he and the others are concerned about: The first issues listed is HOS (hours of service) reform that makes sense. The second is parking, where there is an approximate shortage of 78,000 truck parking spaces, which grows from 1,000 to 1,800 a year. Third on his list is driver training and having set standards for all drivers. Lastly they are requesting that drivers be involved in the process of making new regulations.

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Via their goal page they explain the actions multiple groups have tried in order to get the U.S. government to address issues that are harming drivers.

In December 2017 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a federal regulation requiring all truck drivers of large commercial motor vehicles to use electronic logging devices to record the drivers hours of service. Truck drivers have taken issue with many regulations that they are required to follow. However, the electronic logging device has pushed the American truck drivers too far. As a result, the truck drivers have organized, in Facebook groups, to protest the forced use of electronic logging devices. The first of these groups, called ELD or Me, was created on May 14, 2017. Shortly after, on June 15, 2017, another group was formed called Operation Black and Blue. These two groups went to Washington D.C. on October 3, 2017. They addressed their grievances with Congressional members and the FMCSA. The FMCSA made declarations that they held a productive meeting with the six truck drivers sent in to meet with them and decided that they would be interested in having more meetings with truck drivers in the future. For the truck drivers, this was a groundbreaking effort but they soon discovered that the FMCSA is more capable of placating truck drivers than they are at resolving the issues with the truck drivers.

Since their initial attempt to resolve the issues with government officials in Washington D.C., truck drivers have formed many Facebook groups and have made many attempts to reach out to government officials. Monday Information held a media blitz and visited many different government agencies in April 2018, to no avail. The United States Truckers Alliance and Black Smoke Matters visited officials from the FMCSA during an event called "That's a Big 10-4 On DC" in October 2018 and still truck drivers feel as if they aren't being heard. What will it take for truck drivers to be taken seriously?

The Facebook group administrators of Black Smoke Matters decided that if they are not going to be taken seriously then the time has come for them to do something to give our federal officials a reason to take truck drivers seriously. The solution is to call for an industry-wide shutdown. This seems like a sensible idea because no one can force an individual to work. We, the American truck driver, have found that the FMCSA has made false claims in favor for regulations that force truck drivers of large commercial vehicles to use electronic logging devices and feel that is a common practice for the agency.

In Claburn's interview with American Trucker, he explains that this strike would not include blocking roadways, and why he believes even younger drivers would be willing to participate at the risk of losing their jobs. Claburn expands on that by stating "There is a risk to anyone who stands up for anything. But remember this, there’s a driver shortage; isn’t that what they keep telling us? If a company is going to fire you for taking the day off to support your industry, I’m pretty sure the driver can find a job tomorrow. The industry can’t have it both ways. They can’t say there’s a shortage and then say because a guy is going to participate in a movement to stand up for better industry standards that they’re going to fire them."

A TRUCKER STRIKE WOULD STOP AMERICA

With the increasing truck driver shortages set to triple over the next seven years, the reason the increasing unhappiness and complaints of the growing number of Independent trucking groups that are sprouting up is so important, is the necessity of what they do, which is where the second link from Quayle comes in, titled "Grocery stores would run out of food in 3 days if long-haul truckers stopped working."

It begins with "Trucking moves 71% of the freight in the United States. And if it were to suddenly cease, the effects would be more drastic than you might expect." 

Trucks and their drivers, quite literally keep our nation, and therefore our economy going. Following the link provided from that article brings us to a study from the American Trucking Associations which details the effects that would start being felt within the first day of a truckers strike. 


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The report also explain "News of a truck stoppage — whether on the local level, state or regional level, or nationwide — will spur hoarding and drastic increases in consumer purchases of essential goods. Shortages will materialize quickly and could lead to civil unrest."

As Stefan Stanford pointed out in his Sunday article, it only takes "nine meals to anarchy,."

Granted without the participation of the larger and/or unionized trucking companies, the worse case scenario won't play out immediately, but Independent truckers, and businesses with smaller fleets of trucks are growing exponentially compared to the larger companies, as seen in a September 2018 report at Trucks.com.

The number of new drivers working in fleets of fewer than 100 trucks grew 322,000 between 2012 and 2018. The number of new drivers at fleets with more than 500 trucks rose 153,000 in the same six-year period, according to Tucker.

With over 23,000 members in the ELD or ME Facebook group, almost 18,000 in the Black Smoke Matters group, and other trucking groups on social media, if all of them stood together in this fight against the regulations that are strangling them, as well as violating their civil rights (explained on the Truckers Stand As One goal page), they could significantly impact everything in less than a full 24 hours.

GOALS ARE REASONABLE CONSIDERING THEY MOVE AMERICA

Truck drivers have gotten a bum deal in America.

According to Business Insider truck drivers' salaries have decreased by as much as 50% since the 1970s.

With the new ELD regulations the time they can spend working is limited, which some would appreciate except for the fact that hours upon hours wasted doing nothing but waiting at loading docks, which is now included in that allowable work time. As explained in an article from May 2018, one driver used to use the hours it took to unload his truck, napping, so he could spend more time on the road already rested, but that is no longer an option as that wasted time is now considered part of the 14 hours they are allowed to work overall in a day. 

Truckers are paid by the mile, but usually don't spend a full 11 hours driving. They might spend six unpaid hours at unloading sites, which cuts into how many hours they spend driving and earning money. With the cap now set at 14 hours of overall work a day, Wright is unable to squeeze in an extra five hours of driving after unloading his truck.

In addition, Wright said drivers are also forced to take 30-minute breaks every eight hours, even if they just spent six of those hours at an unloading site.

A few hours here and there add up over time. Wright said squeezing in an extra 1,000 miles in a week translates to $450.

The simple goals behind the upcoming April 2019 trucker strike are not unreasonable in any manner, and they are hoping, according to Claburn's interview that the shippers will be the ones to contact their congress members and ask "what's the deal," when their carriers don't show up to load or unload because they stopped the trucks for a day.

BOTTOM LINE

The Trump administration needs to step up efforts to help these truckers get reasonable reforms passed in order to help them keep America moving. They are the life-force of America, they keep the nation moving and they deserve better than what they are getting.

I am giving the bottom line to another Trucker, Will Kling, a truck driver based in Reno, Nevada, who previously told Business Insider, "Trucking has been forgotten. When you go to that store and you pick up that bottle of wine or that ketchup, you don't think about the process it took to get it where it is. He continued on to say "If I could tell everybody something about trucking, it would be that there are heartbeats in the truck. They don't drive themselves. We all have families, we're all just trying to do a job, like everybody else. Our job is just really different and way more dangerous."

Proving there are not only heartbeats in those trucks we see along the roads but actual generous and good hearts, we see a series of videos on the Black Smoke Matters website, showing what some of their truckers spend their time doing when not long-haul driving....... feeding the homeless and hungry hot soup on cold days.



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