We got the tipoff last month that there was trouble stirring in the trucking industry, with a possible strike between September 8 & 12 (that never panned out). But it looks like the trucker mantra may be to keep on rolling, as another strike is now scheduled for October 31st. From the somewhat dubious source (dubious, because anyone can issue a press release):
Owner operator, Mychael says “The freight rates are the same as they were 10 years ago, yet the price of fuel has tripled. This shut down has been a long time coming and we need to open some eyes!”
[…]The trucking industry is the largest and most needed in the country. Close to 12,000 small businesses in the industry have gone under in the last few years. The average truck gets 6 miles to the gallon in fuel. When fuel prices are three dollars a gallon, it takes fifty cents per mile alone in fuel to run that truck. With most freight rates at $1.00 a mile, ( which is what many owner operators receive, however, a lot are only getting 88 cents a mile), you can see that there is barely anything left out of profits by the time you figure fuel, not to mention, maintenance and repairs on equipment. So how are these people getting their families fed?
Interestingly, there seems to be little organization at the moment, however don’t be fooled, as previous independent trucker strikes have worked well in the past. Earlier this summer, a 1 week New Brunswick trucker strikefor bread and other essentials in Maine:
Larry’s One Stop in Madawaska sold 400 loaves of bread and manager Scott Beaulieu was sent scrambling to restock his supplies Thursday.
“We’ve doubled our business … with Canadians coming to the store,” said Beaulieu. He said Canadian customers cleaned out his shelves and topped off their gas tanks as well. He had a brother haul extra bread from Presque Isle in a car.
Other grocery and gasoline retailers along the northern border were handed a short-lived boon by the wildcat strike in New Brunswick.
The strike, started by independent truckers unhappy with fuel and insurance costs, had grown from its Monday night beginnings. Truckers started by blocking one road, and the blockades had spread to 13 locations as of Thursday.
By Friday, it was all over. Traffic was returning to normal and Canadian grocery and convenience stores were restocking supplies.
Another independent operator strike this summer, in Vancouver BC, ended up crippling the local economy after it dragged on for over five weeks and gives a dire warning:
He told the June “Pulse of the Ports” conference in Long Beach that in the last five years, driver insurance costs have risen 100 per cent, registration (tractor plates) by 90 per cent, fuel costs by 60 per cent, and maintenance costs by 30 per cent. At the same time, pay rates have not changed much in the last 15 years and the average number of daily turns has stagnated as traffic in the ports and on the 710 Freeway link increases all the time. As a result, the incomes of truck drivers in adjusted dollars are substantially less than five to 10 years ago.
But one of the most interesting points is by commenter tommymoore, who has little sympathy for either trucker or broker and points out a glaring flaw in this limited free market system (it can be easily argued that over-regulation and taxation is the primary culprit):
I have no sympathy for either side in this dispute. The drivers have undercut each other while the brokers have maximized profits. A classic example of the folly of a free market system, which is really at the heart of the problem. An owner operator of a rig ‘hauling cans’ has bad choices to make in order to increase his take home pay. Neglect maintenance – at $85/hr this would seem to be a significant expense. Drive longer hours – a safety hazard, as well as a lousier life. Demand a better rate? Nope, these guys have undercut each other to the point where the pay is abysmal and really have nobody to blame but themselves.
Whatever the outcome, we’re keeping our ears to the ground on this one. If not this month, eventually the camel’s back is going to break and the trucking industry is going to have a huge strike.