Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If you want to read more about what is going on with this trucking situation go to the website shown below:

http://www.uscattle haulers.com

The folks at uscattlehaulers are planning a nationwide shutdown of their trucks on April 1, 08. This is NOT an April Fools joke. With the insane price of diesel fuel - at $4.00+ a gallon - many truckers are either barely surviving or are going out of business completely.

Talk of a strike

Over a cup of coffee at a truck stop with a stranger, jabbering on their CB radios or unloading their thoughts to a trucker's blog, truckers lament the winnowing of their ranks.

"Everything seems to have dried up," complained Wayne Weisser, a Las Vegas trucker who spent a week in Dallas recently waiting for a load. He also helps run Life on the Road (www.lifeonthe road.com), a trucker's blog where the buzz includes the need for a strike to force public solutions to their private agonies.

But officials at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a Missouri-based group that views itself as a voice for the nation's 350,000 independent truckers, frown on the strike talk.

Their rationale is that not all truckers are affected by high fuel prices, because some are in better-paying niches or can rely on cash reserves to get them through the crisis. A weak strike would hurt only the few who would put their livelihood on the line.

Yet that doesn't mean they have downplayed the crisis brought on by the 129 percent increase in diesel fuel costs in the last year.

They have asked the government to stop fuel companies from shipping diesel overseas and to halt strategic reserve fuel stockpiling. They also have asked Congress to force trucking brokers to pass along 100 percent of the fuel surcharges they get from customers.

"We know that [brokers] are pocketing the surcharges," claimed Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the independent truckers group.

Drivers like Dan Kupke, 50, of Martinsville, Ill., figures he will park his truck in five months and get a job with a trucking company.

"A lot of drivers out here are living hand to mouth," he said over the cell phone in his cab on a Miami-bound trip. "They'll finish a load and get paid for it, and that's the only money they'll have until the next load."

At the Flying J truck stop in Lake Station, Chris Petty, 37, a Detroit trucker carrying a load from Cleveland to Milwaukee, is nursing his coffee, trying to wake up after driving much of the night. It's early morning, and some drivers are hunkered over breakfasts swapping stories.

"There are guys out there losing their butts," said Petty, stirring a chorus of silent nods. He is not one of them because he hauls animal feed, a product that brings him a better rate.

A dire situation

Then there's Fischer, 44, of Carlisle, Ind. An independent since 2001, his business went sour two years ago, and the spiral hasn't relented. He is a tall, hefty man of a few words, a former U.S. Army mechanic who tries to do all his own repairs. But if anything major goes wrong with his 8-year-old truck with 1.2 million miles on it, "I'm done," he said.

To conserve money, he has stopped taking toll roads. That means more driving time but less money out of his pocket. He also doesn't idle his truck while sleeping to stay warm at night, even when it is close to zero degrees.

Back home in southwest Indiana, he hunts to put food in the refrigerator. He makes his truck payments, but they pass on a lot of other bills. "We are right there on the edge," he admitted.

Around his wife he purposely tries to stay upbeat so she will fret less. He said she tells him he is faking it, but he insists to her that he isn't.

"I just kinda bury it," he said with a shrug, then pauses. "I have a big graveyard inside of me."

Out in the parking lot, he checks his tires in the chilly drizzle. They are OK. Then he listens to his engine, which hasn't changed its story.

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