People have been sending me intel lately on a looming trucker strike which may (or may not) be scheduled for mid-October. My twenty-five years in the industry leads me to believe this will have little or no impact.
There is a facebook page, Truckers to Shut Down America, which has under 6000 likes. The latest status reads:
“Breaker 1 9 calling on all Trucker to shut America down for three days October 11-13. The American people are bleeding out with no relief in sight, It is time to change the NEWS. Let us show our elected officials that we are 100% fed up with corruption and the blatant disregard of the Constitution that they swore to defend.” [sic]
The problems here with this ‘protest’ are many. Firstly, truck drivers are generally not followers. They tend to be loners who expect a certain level of autonomy. Also – they aren’t exactly a wealthy demographic. Taking three days off translates into a tonne of downtime; somewhat of a dirty word in this business.
And let’s not forget the parallel cultures which now exist in the world of trucking. Vast numbers of truckers are immigrants who, for obvious reasons, would never agree to such a move. Perhaps they are happy to simply be working at all. Or they simply have no idea about the event because of, again, the differences in culture and language. They just don’t hang with the patriotic american trucker crowd.
Don’t get me wrong here – if there was a group of people who truly are capable of shutting down the country it’s the truckers. Practically everything we use in our daily existence was at one point on a truck. Grocery stores would quickly run out of goods. Gas stations would dry up. Riots would ensue. It would truly be a nightmare. The truckers are the backbone of western civilization… and they know it.
But alas, it is also well known in the industry that truck drivers have never been able to agree on anything. If some take the day off to drive up to DC others will simply move in like vultures and move the freight hoping the customer will take notice that his shipment was more important than a protest. Trucking companies will not take part in this ‘strike’ for that very reason. If an assembly line shuts down and people are sent home because a trucking company had no trucks to deliver that line of parts in a ‘just in time’ delivery climate then trucking companies are liable and that, my friend, can be very costly.
Without truckers, America grinds to a halt. But at the same time, the industry is so competitive that a unified ‘protest’ convoy to DC is simply not on. Look for some possible independents to ride up there and show off their trucks, you know, the ones who inherited a bunch of money and don’t really need the job. As for the rest, look for them out on the highway, hauling your DVD players and Cheerios.