Read FreightWaves’ followup to this story here.
Members of a truckers’ group calling itself StopTheTires2020 planned to shut down their trucks Wednesday to make a stand against President-elect Joe Biden’s “ban on fracking.”
Oregon trucker Jeremy Rewoldt, the organizer of StopTheTires2020, said the U.S. is a capitalist economy and oil is the fuel “she survives on.”
“The blue-collar workers are literally the ones that make the wheels turn,” Rewoldt wrote in a Facebook post. “Without truck drivers, this country could not survive for long.”
Biden has clarified that his proposal only opposes hydraulic fracking on federal lands.
The Facebook group, made up of truck drivers, members of the U.S. military and their families, along with Trump supporters, had more than 51,500 members early Wednesday.
One of the group’s first members, who goes by “Lowe Frank” on Facebook, said the group picked Veterans Day to boycott delivery of nonessential supplies to major U.S. cities “as a way to show support for President Trump.” Trump has not conceded the presidential election.
“Everyone in their hearts knows that Trump had [the election] stolen from him,” the group member told FreightWaves. “It is to honor our fallen military, our forgotten veterans and our truck driving veterans.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data, of the 3.5 million truck and delivery drivers, one in 10 is a military veteran, which is another reason why the StopTheTires group selected Wednesday to protest.
One of the group members whose spouse is a member of the U.S. military supports truckers’ efforts to shut down the country as a way to let everyone know that “we, as citizens of America, have a voice.”
“Over half of truckers are veterans themselves so what better way to pay homage than this date,” the Facebook group member said.
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StopTheTires: Will truckers show up?
On Monday, a FreightWaves poll on social media asked truckers if they were aware of the StopTheTires2020 campaign and if they supported it.
Of the respondents, 56% stated they had never heard of the group. Another 16% said they were aware of the group’s efforts but were not participating, and 23% said they don’t support shutting down their trucks.
Truck driver Dan “Dusty Chrome” Porter of Florence, Kentucky, has seen a lot over his 52-year trucking career.
He doesn’t support the StopTheTires2020 strike because previous efforts over the past 12 years to shut down over low rates like with the Black Smoke Matters slow rolls or protests over soaring fuel prices in 2008 have mainly been unsuccessful.
“There just aren’t enough truckers that agree on anything or everything to show up and make a stand that will hurt the economy,” Porter told FreightWaves.
The coronavirus pandemic hurt many truck drivers who say they pivoted from flatbed to dry van or refrigerated freight to keep the wheels turning in 2020.
With some loads paying over $3 per mile, some truckers say they have to set aside their political beliefs to feed their families.
“I hauled cars and took a big hit because airports were closed and people weren’t driving much because of COVID,” the truck driver, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, told FreightWaves. “If someone else passes on loads, this just gives me the advantage to make money.”
Some just like disruption and chaos
Some company drivers said they feared losing their jobs if they refused to haul loads Wednesday as part of the StopTheTires protest.
Others in the industry thrive on negativity and chaos, said Shelle Lichti, a 28-year trucking veteran.
“There are some who have no plans to protest but want to support the industry,” Lichti told FreightWaves. “Then some people revel and roll around in these types of circumstances.”
A second StopTheTires protest is set for Nov. 26-29.
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This is a developing story