Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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Truckers pump fists over diesel prices
WASHINGTON -- Small groups of truckers across the U.S. shut down their rigs on April Fools Day, yesterday; But for them, the cost of fuel is no joke. Protesting the skyrocketing price of diesel, scatterings of independent truckers went on strike in pockets throughout the country. According to the Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer Journal, "hundreds of truckers circled the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Monday afternoon, blaring their horns in protest and calling on Gov. Ed Rendell to eliminate Pennsylvania's diesel-fuel tax of 38.1 cents per gallon - the highest in the nation." On the New Jersey Turnpike, about 200 people took part in a protest at a service area in the northern part of the state, while truckers reportedly were driving at slow speeds and disrupting traffic. By midday, the Bradenton Herald reported that about 70 big rigs lined up in a protest outside the Port of Tampa; and in Georgia, about 30 trucks convoyed to the state capital with a plan to call on policymakers to cut the state's fuel tax. Police were handing out tickets to truckers accused of impeding traffic near Chicago.Some truckers put signs on their rigs saying "$4 diesel = higher food costs. Can you afford to eat?" while driving slowly enough to attract attention, Truckinginfo.com reports. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says it does not support organized shutdowns. "A strike is not the answer," OOIDA President Jim Johnston wrote in a blog entry in mid-March. "Here's why: Most small business truckers will not support a strike and will not shut down for the period of time it would take to be successful ... Calling for a strike without the support of the majority would show weakness rather than strength, and the result would be increased economic hardship to the small percentage of truckers who do participate in the shutdown with no gains to justify their sacrifice."

Running On Empty: Truckers in North America
have had their fill of skyrocketing fuel prices
In addition, OOIDA notes, because owner-operators are independent businesses, any labor organizing efforts or strikes could be construed as violating federal anti-trust laws. Instead, OOIDA is lobbying for legislation mandating fuel surcharges. "We are repeatedly asked by the media if a strike will have an impact and so we remind them that it's not just about one day, or one week; it's about the longer term if diesel prices do not change. Truckers are consumers, too," said Norita Taylor, OOIDA spokesperson, on the group's official publication website, Landlinemag.com. Other than a small handful of isolated incidences, there were no reports of truck strikes over fuel prices in Canada this week. -- with files from Truckinginfo.com
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