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NewsTrucking

Independent truckers stage rally along Houston freeway to protest low pay

The drivers displayed a large banner reading, “We are the resistance. Honest prices on loads. Fair fees from insurance companies. Broker regulations.”

A group of around 75 truck drivers stopped traffic along a Houston freeway for about three hours on Tuesday, protesting low cargo rates and high maintenance costs.

The drivers, mostly independent owner-operators, parked a long line of trucks along the right shoulder of the 610 East Loop in Houston, forcing police to shut down the freeway during afternoon traffic.

“What happened this afternoon after 2 p.m., we received reports of about 75 commercial vehicles blocking the 610 Loop, we responded with officers and got the trucks off the freeway and onto an adjacent parking lot,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo during a press conference after the protest ended.

Addiel Santos said the protest was aimed at letting people know truckers want to be paid more for hauling freight.

“The brokers are the ones who are breaking the economy and breaking truck drivers; they are killing us, literally,” said Addiel Santos, an independent owner-operator based in Austin.

“Brokers are paying for trips from Houston to Midland-Odessa like $1,800 to $1,900 before. Right now they are paying $700. A trip from Houston to Odessa costs me $400. If I get a flat tire, need road service, I have to pay out of my pocket, and still only get $700,” Santos said. 

Santos added that many brokers are not paying for detention time.

“People need to think more about truck drivers, because we drive for days, a week. We get tired too. I know other jobs are hard. But we have to be on the road all day, concentrating on the road,” Santos said.

Many of the protesters displayed homemade signs during yesterday’s demonstration in Houston. Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Santos, along with other truck drivers in Houston, wore black T-shirts with the word “Resistance” across the front below an image of Guy Fawkes, a popular symbol of protest.

“We are the resistance. Honest prices on loads. Fair fees from insurance companies. Broker regulations,” a large banner at the center of the protest read.

Drivers also displayed homemade signs that read “Cheap Brokers” and “Raise Rates or No Haul.”

“These are independent drivers who were protesting nonpayment by companies that have hired them to move goods,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “It’s an ongoing problem, but this is no way to fix that problem, by engaging in an illegal activity.”

Stephany De La Caridad, one of the protest leaders, was arrested at the scene, according to Santos.

Acevedo confirmed a woman was arrested “for inciting a riot and obstruction of the highway,” but did not release a name. Acevedo said the woman was transported to the Harris County Joint Processing Center where she was booked.

Acevedo added, “Everyone that was blocking the highway in protest has been cited with a Class C misdemeanor. We now have their driver’s license and truck information, and if they do this again, they will be arrested and their trucks will be impounded.”

Around 75 owner-operators said they were protesting broker fees and high maintenance costs yesterday in Houston. Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is the Cross-Border Freight Market Reporter for FreightWaves.com. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1999. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas.

83 Comments

  1. Some if you guys can tell are lease purchases and leased to big company. The trucking industry is made up of mostly some companies and independent. When you pay on average
    2500 truck payment
    1000 trailer payment
    Ifta
    500 truck trailer Ins
    600 cargo ins
    200 work comp
    Escrow
    Tolls
    50 for yearly ufta fee
    5500 fuel
    And other things this is all in a month per truck so no you cant survive on 90 to 1.30 mile for long period. And it’s all brokers and drivers fault brokers for allowing customers to pay that and drivers for taking that load. And u better be looking at new liability that want us to carry it will bankrupt most. And no one stand with each other hell look at drivers now days way they drive way they park way they act it’s a different animal know days and old guys are doing breed.

    1. Couldn’t agree more!
      Everyone that is trying underbid others on the rate, hoping this is just temporarily and thinking they will just do it on few trips or for few weeks, all they doing is just prolonging this problem.
      Do the simple math, you can’t move loads and add from your pocket to do it.
      Companies that do that should be audited right away because they are clearly skimming somewhere, by either
      not paying some drivers and just keep hiring new ones;
      possibly not keep all the equipment on the policy;
      steeling or purchasing stolen diesel fuel
      or possibly all of the above.
      It is mathematically not possible to survive these rates for even short period of time !
      Value you work and work of everyone involved!
      SAY NO TO CHEAP FREIGHT!

  2. Brokers are thief’s all brokers should be audited loads that pay 3000 dollars they skim a thousand right off the top then charge the driver 18%more on the remaining balance

  3. I agree but look at the police they said that it was illegal to do a protest and if you did it again they would arrest you and impound your truck you know that people out here just don’t care about the truck driver.if all trucks would get together and just shut down then things will start to happen. But like truckers of yesteryear they never could do it ether!!! I use too hear it all the time but it just never transpired just like today all talk and no action. Just one time would I love to see this happen just one week and every trucker would get the pay they really deserve!!!!! That’s my two cents I’m gone.

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