It is beginning to sound a lot like 1979 when over 100,000 of the U.S. independent truckers went on strike and sent the country into a phase of turmoil. At a time when diesel fuel was a mere $0.78 per gallon, the nation’s truck drivers had reached their boiling point and along with an additional 200,000 warehouse workers, they shut down.
Within a matter of days, food spoiled on warehouse shelves, gas stations were out of fuel and store shelves emptied. As tempers flared among a nation that had become pampered to a certain way of life, violence broke out across twenty states.
Florida is no stranger to trucker strikes as well; the sunshine state came through the gas haulers strike of 1978-1979 as reported by the then known, Lakeland Ledger and the Ocala Star Banner.
Independent gasoline truckers numbering 175 chose to strike due to the rising cost of fuel. In 1979, another 300 truckers, many gas haulers, again rose to strike which led to Governor Bob Graham ordering 250 National Guardsmen to the Port of Tampa for security reasons.
Along with the emergency activation of the Guard, the strike caused major gas lines, a plan of rationing for most of South Florida and cost the State $70,000 per day for the implementation of the Guardsmen.
Today, the national average diesel fuel price is $4.16 per gallon and coupled with increasing industry regulations, 70 hour work-weeks with poor wages and yet another hours-of-service (HOS) rule to go into compliance on July 1st, 2013, the talk of a major trucker strike is coming to the surface once again.
For the Truck Driver Appreciation Week of 2013, some drivers are beginning to call for a uniting of truckers to shut down in order to, “Go on strike to send a message.” The message to send entails the staggering repercussion that drivers see that the DOT regulations, low wages, and HOS and EOBR’s rules are having on the American trucker; but the chances of a major nationwide trucker strike is next to zero.
Although the majority of citizens have no idea of what a real and major long-term trucker strike could eventually do to the country, the chances of one is improbable. In today’s economic disaster, one cannot afford to lose employment, let alone thousands. It is difficult enough to get two truck drivers to agree on the color of the sky; bringing tens of thousands together in a time of high unemployment and future uncertainty is insurmountable.
For the good of our country, a strike of such magnitude is inadmissible. To bring further hardship to those who have no control over the industry’s regulations, wages and treatment of drivers would be inconceivable.
Alternately, professional truck drivers need to stand together in following the guidelines of the law. The reason truckers are losing the battle against employee rights and fairness, is that far too many fail to raise a pen to write to their Congressmen or Senators; far too many fail to voice their concerns to the appropriate governmental bodies who enact the regulations.
A devastating trucker strike is not the contrivance that is needed. If the nation’s truckers came together through pen and paper, they just might discover that the pen truly is mightier than the sword.