The electronic-logging-device mandate, debates over unpaid breaks, and other concerns wracked truck drivers in 2018.
Thousands of truckers are planning to protest the state of trucking with “a nationwide shutdown” on April 12.
They are organizing the strike in a Facebook group called “Black Smoke Matters.”
Trucking labor experts told Business Insider that the effort will likely not result in anything.
“(W)hat the public doesn’t realize is that behind the scenes Black Smoke Matters is very organized,” Black Smoke Matters president Mike Robbins said.
Fewer than 10% of America’s 1.8 million long-haul truck drivers are unionized. And independent truck drivers, called owner-operators, are outright banned from forming unions.
That makes it difficult for truckers, who are spread all over the country and often working solo, to advocate for their rights. Today, many truck drivers feel that their voices aren’t included in creating the policies that affect them.
A group called “Black Smoke Matters”, which has accrued some 15,000 members on Facebook, seeks to change that. The group is organizing a strike on April 12, which would “shut down” trucking for one or more days across the country. For truckers, that might mean staying at home, parking in trucker rest stops, or literally blocking the freeways.
“It’s up to the individual, but we we would love everyone to be involved,” Black Smoke Matters president Lori Franklin told Business Insider. “We want all trucks to come to a standstill.”
Read more: Thousands of truckers in a Facebook group called ‘Black Smoke Matters’ are planning a one-day nationwide strike this April
The hoped-for result is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration takes truckers’ side of things into account when considering new policies. At the top of the list is the electronic-logging mandate, which came into effect in December 2017. The mandate requires truckers to keep an electronic log in their cabins to ensure they don’t work for more than 14 hours a day or drive more than 11, in accordance with the hours-of-service law. Many truckers have told Business Insider that the federal mandate cut down on their wages, freedom, and safety.
But experts who study trucking labor said Black Smoke Matters isn’t likely to succeed.
“I would be shocked if anything was successful,” Michael Belzer, an associate professor in economics at Wayne State University who has studied trucking for decades, told Business Insider. “I’m afraid organizing on Facebook is a little unrealistic.”
Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said social-media-organized trucker strikes have been common since the late aughts. They’ve largely failed, but that’s not to say that the technology-based organizing tactic is doomed forever.
And if Black Smoke Matters succeeds, it wouldn’t be the first time naysayers were proved wrong. In 1973-4, independent truck drivers organized over CB radio to shut down trucking across the US for multiple days in protest of skyrocketing oil prices. Truckers won their demands after the shutdown, and the strike gave rise to the influential Owner-Operators …read more
Source:: Business Insider