If you frequent any of the trucking news sites that populate the web you may have caught wind of the proposed “Truckers to Shut Down America” movement that is set to take place on the second weekend of October (the 11th through the 13th). Since its inception around the 21st or so of September, the event has seen quite a bit of backlash from both those in public office and popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“Truckers to Shut Down America” or Ride for the Constitution pens itself as a group of truck drivers, friends and family who, according to their Facebook page are,
“…sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America. We therefore declare a general strike on the weekend of October the 11th. Truck drivers will not haul freight. Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers.”
Within the first day of the Facebook page’s creation it attracted a little over 86,000 likes. But, the next day Facebook promptly shut it down citing its enigmatic “community standards” law which bars content that is deemed violent, threatening or containing hate speech from being made available on its site (the page has since resurfaced and accumulated around 31,000 likes).
As a trucker, I naturally gravitate towards any sort of event that has a direct impact on the industry that I have been a part of for a little over a decade, however I paradoxically find myself at odds with the muddied agenda and spirit of the gathering.
In one section of the group’s official media statement they cite low trucker wages and increasing fuel prices as two of the main reasons for the protest. These two points are very close to my heart as they make up a significant portion of my frustrations with the truck driving industry. Annual truck driving salaries sit at an average of $48,000, but I can tell you that my starting wage was pointedly lower than that. Combine these low wages with truckers who pay for fuel out of pocket and you can quickly find yourself in a tight spot. Like teachers, I whole-heartedly believe that truck drivers are provided a disproportionate wage in exchange for the crucial services that they provide to Americans all across the United States.
The real problem I see with this demonstration is that the above are the only two real ties the protest has to the trucking industry. The rest of the points the write-up cites as cause for a call to action are pretty radical and with a quick read over you can start to piece together why Facebook and Twitter initially pulled the plug on group’s page. With statements like, “We [the United States] now support Al Qaeda”, “[the governments] theft from the United States will result in a collapse of the money system” and, “legislation that most Americans don’t know much about has converted our country from a free country to a tyrannical one.”
So on one hand there is a part of me that feels compelled to support this misrepresented portion of our workforce. However, the opposite side of the coin is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. I guess what I am getting at is that I see the deficiency that is at hand. Something absolutely needs to be done, but I feel a little bit ashamed that the Ride for the Constitution movement is bringing in their own political agenda to what is a very serious matter for the thousands of families who rely on a trucker’s income to support their families, pay for bills and hopefully one day, assist in putting a child through college.
Now, with the recent news of the shutdown in Washington, it remains to be seen just how effective this protest will be as lawmakers and government officials clash over issues of spending and the national budget.
In the end, I realize I am just one small voice that makes up a plethora of opinions and personalities of the many Americans that call the truck driving industry their career. If you haven’t done so already, take a few moments to educate yourself about this proposed rally. Where do you stand in the matter? I would love to hear from you, either in the comments below or through email at GusWright.BigRig@gmail.com.
Gus Wright has been active in the truck driving community for more than ten years. When not on the road, Gus is knee-deep in family life as he and his wife navigate the tumultuous roads of bringing up two rambunctious toddlers.