Truckers on the Move — Protesting the High Cost of Fuel

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Recent trucker protests are another sign of deepening economic crisis. $4 a gallon and more for diesel fuel sparked a wave of long-haul truckers’ protests beginning in April and still continuing. New Jersey, Washington D.C., New York, Maine and other areas have seen trucker slowdowns, shut downs, horn-blaring convoys, marches and other acts of resistance.

Most long-haul truckers are now “owner-operators”. They “own” (most are paying off a loan) a big rig, while also paying for fuel, tolls, repairs, insurance and other expenses and contracting out their services to big companies or “brokers” to deliver goods.

Owner-operators are forced to compete with each other in a constant race to the bottom -to deliver at the lowest price in order to get work. As a result, they have low profit margins and like most small businesses, many go under. For the last twenty years, many truckers suffered dearly for any cost savings with mass layoffs, union-busting, and more stressful and dangerous working conditions.

The truckers taking action now are most concerned with getting immediate relief from the high cost of diesel fuel. Their demands include stopping subsidies and tax credits to big oil corporations, the release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, the regulation of brokers and insurance fees, as well as the establishment of a minimum wage per mile. (For more information go to ’Truckers and Citizens Unite’ at www.TheAmericanDriver.com.)

The owner-operators should link with the Teamsters and other unions to demand an end to deregulation of the industry, for a living wage, union rights, and a united struggle against the giant oil companies. The militant tactics used by the long-haul truckers should be combined with mass actions by the unions to make big business pay for the crisis of their system. With 70% of the nation’s goods moving by truck, the potential power is there for truck drivers to hugely impact the economy through mass, organized job actions.

High fuel prices are mostly the result of monopolization, speculation, lack of planning and just plain greed of the big oil companies. These companies are making colossal profits, and their executives and big shareholders are completely unaccountable. Resources that heat our homes and fuel our transportation should be taken under public ownership with democratic workers control and planning.

These struggles should be an inspiration to all workers and young people. We need to organize pickets and marches outside oil companies, big food processors, supermarkets and others involved in making profits out of the misery of rising prices.