Trucking groups condemned the Wednesday attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, which left at least five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and many more injured.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Western States Trucking Association and the American Trucking Associations separately spoke out against the violence, casting it as an affront to U.S. democracy.
“Certainly most people would agree that Wednesday was a sad day for American democracy,” Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told FreightWaves. “What happened in the nation’s Capitol is certainly unacceptable, inappropriate, totally uncalled for.”
Thousands of pro-Trump supporters, including some truck drivers, marched to the Capitol at the president’s urging after attending Trump’s “Save America Rally” where he continued to make false claims about election fraud and called for lawmakers to block the certification of the Electoral College vote.
Spencer said he supports all truckers’ rights to peacefully protest, but not those wanting to do harm or destroy public or private property.
OOIDA, a Missouri-based trade association that represents small-business truckers, was founded in the early 1970s as truckers protested the OPEC oil embargoes that attempted to shut down the trucking industry and nearly crippled the nation.
“We figured out pretty quickly that protests make a little noise for a moment, but if you want to see real change, you have to knuckle down and work within the system,” Spencer said.
Spencer said he has members of both political parties who say Washington, D.C., doesn’t really work for them right now.
“It’s time to turn down the noise and focus on the issues, not politics,” he said. “The vast majority of issues that truckers have can only be resolved with bipartisan cooperation.”
Truckers need a place at the table under Biden administration
Joe Rajkovacz, who serves as the director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, said if truckers want a place at the table to talk about serious issues facing the trucking industry they must first turn off the Trump rhetoric.
“Like it or not, there is a changing of the guard in Washington, D.C.,” Rajkovacz told FreightWaves. “If you truly care about the trucking industry, antagonizing those coming into power, who will be the decision makers, will backfire on you.”
He said any traction truckers gained under Trump will be lost by continuing to buy into the conspiracy theories about election fraud touted by the president, some U.S. lawmakers and pro-Trump supporters.
“There are some serious issues ahead that need to be addressed under President-elect Biden,” Rajkovacz said. “You aren’t going to gain a damn thing if you antagonize the Democrats right now,” he said.
Business groups seek to distance themselves from Trump
National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons, a staunch supporter of Trump policies, issued a stunning rebuke of the president Wednesday and called for him to be removed from office.
The Retail Leaders Industry Association also forcefully denounced conspiracy theories about the election and called Wednesday’s events sedition.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned one day after Wednesday’s violent attack on the Capitol.
In commenting on her resignation, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear called Chao a “strong leader and a tremendous partner” on issues affecting trucking.
“On a personal note, having worked for and with her over many years, I can attest that Elaine is a person of strong moral character, and should be applauded for not standing idly by following yesterday’s abhorrent and shameful events at the Capitol,” Spear said in a statement. “This is the kind of principled stand in support of our democracy I’ve always known her to take.”
The ATA, which has had strong ties to Trump over the last four years, is a national trade organization representing large motor carriers in the U.S.
“We look forward to working with President-elect Biden’s Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg as he begins his transition to lead the Department,” Spear said.
Read related articles: