Overdrive Magazine

May 2019

Issue link: https://dmtmag.uberflip.com/i/1111363

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12 | Overdrive | May 2019 As a reported 20 to 30 bobtail trucks and their operators were busy con- voying in a "slow roll" around the Chicago area April 12, Chi-Town Large Cars club cofounder Kris Santoianni of Northern Indiana was busy with others doing what activists had long called for: shutting down. Calls for an April 12 shutdown, largely through social media, began making the rounds early in the year. For many Chi-Town members, it presented an opportunity for a meet- up beyond the group's annual truck show, their principal gathering. "I guess we'll mess my house up," Santoianni told them at the time. As he put it April 11, "We have members coming in from all over the place, probably 20, 30 people from out of town" for what essentially was a shut- down party, with time to talk, swap stories and debate issues. Santoianni feels any effective pro- test – shutdown or slow roll – needs to demonstrate unity among drivers, whose voices in industry discussions don't always rise to the top. For San- toianni and others, though, shutting down April 12 wasn't all about gov- ernment-engagement efforts. "Freight's taken a beating" this slow season, he says, and the typical spring uptick in early April showed no signs of arrival. "e money's taken a beat- ing. Not 10 minutes ago, I got a call from another guy getting ready to sell everything and find a company job." at owner-operator friend is not the only one Santoianni knows who is struggling to stay afloat. If Overdrive online polling con- ducted the day ahead of the April 12 shutdown was any indication of levels of participation, two in 10 readers planned to take the day off, though no reports indicate anything close to 20 percent of all drivers actually did that. Not one of six drivers interviewed at the Love's in Binghamton, New York, on the aernoon of April 11 had even heard about the calls for a shutdown. Further interviews at an Alabama truck stop April 12 yielded the same results. Among the truckers in Binghamton was owner-operator Mark Eseltine of Champlain, New York. He had loaded the morning of April 11 in Pittston, Pennsylvania, with energy drinks and was headed to Colches- ter, Vermont. Even though Eseltine would be running April 12, he echoed Santoianni's thoughts about the cur- rent freight market. "Half of our problems are with DOT, and half are with freight," said Eseltine, who has driven for 26 years. "ere are six DOT stops in 175 miles on I-87 between Albany and Canada. We provide the world with food and clothes and all the other essentials people need to have to live on, and we get hassled the most." As Eseltine fueled his 1988 Peterbilt, he pointed at that day's diesel price of $3.34 and said rates he'd been offered of late – $1.30 and $1.20 a mile that week – just weren't cutting it. e prior week he'd been offered 99 cents per mile for a de- livery, well below spot and contract averages. It shows how brokers are pushing hard for what they can get in what some see as an oversupplied market, even with the ELD mandate having constrained capacity to an extent. Protests: Rates, regs and resistance Kris Santoianni hauls with this 315-inch-wheel- base 1999 379 for a two-truck owner leased to an 18-truck fleet. The Pete got a bit of an update in April, including "cab and sleeper panels, new front fenders and rear fenders," he says. NO APOLOGIES FOR SKIPPING SHUTDOWN There's ways of getting your message across other than impacting those that have no dog in this fight. I submit to my fellow driver that making the public angry is not going to help your cause. Owner-operator Tim Philmon on one reason he did not shut down April 12 in solidarity with calls for a protest of the ELD mandate and other industry issues. Philmon joins others who object to tactics such as the slow rolls around metropolitan areas and brief highway blockades as alienating those who should be influenced in a positive way by any mass action.

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