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Strike Out

Claim:   Truckers are poised to strike over rising fuel prices.

MIXTURE OF TRUE AND FALSE INFORMATION

Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, August 2005]

Good Morning Friends,

I have spoken with a few independent truckers in the past 24 hours, and they ALL have indicated to me that there will be a nationwide trucker strike by the Teamsters Union & Major Independents commencing between 8 & 12 September 2005. They will be protesting the high price of fuel nationwide, and intend to bring the Nation to her knees, as they did in the early seventies. I have no reason to doubt these individuals, as their grapevine is usually accurate, and this poses a serious problem for the Nation at large. Almost everything moves by truck across this country, and it won't take very long for our merchants shelves and gasoline storage tanks to empty resulting in serious shortages in food and fuel. So, be prepared.... fill your pantries and autos prior to the eighth of September!!!!

Unlike the contrived oil and gasoline shortages of the early seventies, the US is not in the position of turning open the spigot and allowing the oil and refined products to flow. Because of the hurricane, the lack of new refineries, and the lack of an ingenious national energy policy, these shortages are real and will be exploited by the Teamsters Union. Every domestic refinery is producing gasoline and home heating oil at maximum capabilities, and combined with the shut down of the refineries in the Gulf due to the hurricane, along with the inability to pump crude oil from the Gulf region, there will be serious shortages for approximately two months. This is a serious National emergency!!!! There have already been long gasoline lines in the South this Labor Day weekend, as many with whom I have spoken from that region have stated to me that in some areas of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida, gasoline is already being rationed. These individuals are being allowed only 10 gallons each.... just enough to get by during this shortage. Every Governor of the above mentioned states have asked their citizens to stay at home over the holiday, thus trying to avoid a disaster in the making.

Wal-Mart has announced that their entire fleet of trucks will stop moving good and services effective Tuesday, September 6th... they know that something is in the making, and don't want to jeopardize either their trucks or personnel during the National Strike. Every independent trucker with whom I have spoken, has stated to me that they will not roll during this time frame, as the Teamsters mean business!!!!

Terry......Teamster Union Member
 

[Collected via e-mail, August 2005]

Are you aware American's are considered greedy? - Saudi Arabia 2005 target price for selling oil was $21 a barrel. Currently, they're selling oil at almost $70 a barrel, while their cost of producing that barrel is just $1.50 . . . (Fortune, Financial Times, New York Mercantile, Exchange)

Consider this E-mail a WARNING...Truckers unions losing patience with the Federal Government and the U.S. Oil Companies... truckers are advised to watch for signs of terrorist activity (AP). . .Under pressure, major freight carriers strike early agreements with Teamsters Union . . .

88,000 unionized truckers are getting the brunt of fuel costs, the major Truckers Unions and drivers has had about enough of getting ripped off. With truckers unions and drivers claiming unreal fuel expenses the unrest and shift is beginning to give birth to a National Truckers Strike.

There have been some severe strikes in years past and the talk is complete shut down. Even the owner operators will park their rigs and go out and even work at menial jobs just to survive. The cost of operation has been eating away their truck payments. One comment was said at a local, "I wonder if the banks have big enough parking lots to hold the repossessions" . . .

The anger has begun to intensify with drivers and the Truckers Union which is directed towards Federal and Oil Companies.

August 17th 2005 a small nucleus of Tanker and Trailer drivers begun to organize in Alabama. It is said three Unions have started to react with the drivers and are threatening to strike for lower fuel prices or else. It has elevated to a fever to contact and encourage their counterparts in other States throughout the nation to strike, Nationwide.

If this threat begins to take form, there are preparations that MUST be started NOW. The trucking industry is the prime provider for pretty much everything we have and enjoy in our home. One major item happens to be our FOOD, then our Fuel, medical supplies, clothing, housewares, building materials, emergency supplies when disaster happens, it goes on and on and on. Get the point, this fuel expense is beginning to take its toll.

It is vitally serious and important for you to increase your immediate food supply, purchase can food items, canned meat, (most of these canned items have a shelf life of 5 Years.) NOW is time to STOCK UP and not when the trucks stop rolling.

THIS IS A WARNING IN ADVANCE. Inform your friends and families include the elderly. You are asked to send this to anyone and everyone. This threat is real, do nothing now and you will find out.
 

[Collected via e-mail, March 2008]

I drive a delivery truck, and stopped at a truck stop off of I - 95. There was a group of truckers standing around talking, and I happened to hear them talking about the upcoming strike planned for the first of April. It is in response to the unaffordable diesel prices, and our government's lack of help to the independent businessman. I was told by them that I should try and stay off of I-95 and to stock up on food stuffs because its gonna get really expensive, really quick. Has any one else heard of this? I have noticed that the local grocers I deliver to have doubled their on hand supply of foodstock, and have noticed that prices have started to really go up quite a bit, really quickly. This might be one heck of a great april fools joke, but what if it isn't?
 

Origins:   Various e-mails about a looming independent truckers and Teamsters union strike began arriving in inboxes everywhere in the last week of August 2005. However, at that time there was no mention of an impending nationwide labor action on the Teamsters web
site, nor was there an announcement from Wal-Mart that its fleet of trucks would suspend operations on Tuesday, September 6th (as claimed in e-mailed warnings). And, in the event, no such truckers' strike ever did materialize.

In March 2008, rumors once again began to circulate that truckers would stage a strike on 1 April 2008 (not as a mandatory union-sponsored work stoppage, but as a grassroots demonstration supported by independent truck owner-operators) to protest the rising price of diesel fuel. Until a few years ago diesel fuel had generally been cheaper than gasoline, but emissions standards requiring the use of ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) have driven up diesel prices to the point that it is now often more expensive than gasoline. (As of mid-March 2008, the average price of diesel fuel in the U.S. was $4.037 per gallon, while gasoline prices averaged $3.275 per gallon during that period.)

Every 5-cent increase in the price of diesel results in an estimated $1,000 increase in truckers' annual expenses, and in March 2008 independent truckers began talking about staging a one-day nationwide trucker shutdown on 1 April 2008 to protest the prospect of their "going broke out on the highway wearing our trucks out":
A trucker's strike may be looming on the horizon. Many independent over the road truck drivers are fed up with rising fuel and insurance costs and are looking into organizing and trying to join together to take rigs off the road and that would mean shortages at supermarkets, convenience stores and if it was carried out to the extreme, eventually at every retail outlet in America. Everything that gets delivered to a retail store in your city or town is eventually delivered by a truck, and if it were highly organized a strike could paralyze the economy.
Whether such a shutdown will take place, how widespread participation will be, and how effective such an action will be in ameliorating truckers' rising fuel expenses is something that will only be known in the aftermath.

There is precedent for independent truck owners and operators banding together to strike over rising fuel costs (although the word "strike" is being used here not in its familiar sense of an action waged against employers to force better wages, benefits, or working conditions for employees, but a work stoppage intended to paralyze industry and thereby force a change in government policy). In February 1974, four months after OPEC had declared an oil embargo against the U.S. and other western nations over their support of Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a group known as the Owners/Operators Independent Drivers Association of America staged a national strike to protest the spiraling costs of fuel, fuel shortages, and reduced speed limits. (In response to the OPEC oil embargo, President Nixon had signed a bill imposing a 55 MPH speed limit on interstate highways.) The ten-day strike resulted in numerous acts of violence, prompting Pennsylvania governor Milton Shapp to activate National Guard units to assist in providing security for commercial vehicles and roadways. The conditions that prompted the strike largely evaporated when OPEC ended its embargo the following month.

Last updated:   26 March 2008

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Sources:

    Bunkley, Nick.   "To Protest Fuel Costs, Truckers Plan Idle Day."
    The New York Times.   29 March 2008   (p. B3).

    Byrd, Gene.   "Trucker's Strike Looming: Fuel Cost Protest in April, Real or Hoax?"
    The National Ledger   24 March 2008.

    CNNMoney.com.   "Gas Prices Rise."
    28 March 2008.

    The Quad City Times.   "Whispers Grow of Nationwide Truckers Strike."
    26 March 2008.