- The electronic-logging-device mandate, debates over unpaid breaks, and other concerns wracked truck drivers in 2018.
- Thousands of truckers are planning to protest the state of trucking on April 12, 2019, with “a nationwide shutdown.”
- They are organising the strike in a Facebook group called “Black Smoke Matters.”
Last year was an especially challenging year for some truck drivers. The electronic-logging-device (ELD) mandate effectively limited the earnings of some truckers, many of whom may not have been abiding by the federal hours-of-service law.
The rule arose from safety concerns, but many say it’s not practical. Steven Wright, a 47-year-old who has been trucking for nearly 24 years, told Business Insider in May that the ELD mandate – and the time constraints it brought – has slashed his weekly earnings by $US450. Those pay decreases are particularly impactful for folks who average $US42,000 a year and regularly spend weeks away from their families while working 70-hour weeks.
Other trucker issues also came to the forefront this year. One was detention time, in which truckers may have to spend hours without pay waiting for shipments at warehouses. Training requirements and debates over paid break time also proved to be major talking points among America’s 1.8 million long-haul truckers.
That’s summarized by one of the truckers’ protest points: “There needs to be involvement from drivers before making new regulations,” a flyer from Truckers Stand as One reads.
“Nobody actually listens to us,” Wright, the truck driver, told Business Insider in May. “People in Washington, DC, or wherever they are, make these rules.”
Truck drivers, whose salaries have plummeted by as much as 50% since the 1980s, feel that they have become less and less respected over time.
“We’re not all fat slobs, and we don’t all do the stereotypical trucker things,” Will Kling, a truck driver based in Reno, Nevada, previously told Business Insider. “Trucking has been forgotten.”
Despite that decline in prestige, truck drivers carry 71% of the nation’s freight in weight, everything from food and medicine to clean water, clothes, and cash. They have become even more crucial to consumers during the rapid rise of e-commerce and fast delivery.
Truckers are planning a shutdown of just one day on April 12. But if they were to protest for three days, grocery stores, gas stations, and ATMs would experience significant shortages.
“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,” Kling said.
“If I could tell everybody something about trucking, it would be that there are heartbeats in the truck,” Kling added. “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.”
Are you a truck driver who plans to strike on April 12? Do you have thoughts on the protest? Email the reporter at [email protected].
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