Drivers in Region 8 Support Independent Truckers Striking at U.S. Ports

JUNE 29, 2004 - Posted at: 6:30pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Hundreds of independent truckers are acting out their frustration by striking. The demonstrations began yesterday at several U.S. ports, including New Orleans.

Many of the drivers we spoke with hadn't yet heard about the strike, but they say they support those who have stopped working. One even said he may soon join them by parking his truck.

Andy Peaster has been climbing into his big rig for the last 25 years. The independent driver from Poplar Bluff can understand why others just like him are protesting at the ports. They're fed up with anti-union laws and wages, as well as Peaster's biggest frustration: diesel prices.

"Fuel's just outrageous," said Peaster.

A bill he revealed showed expenses from a recent shipment he made. He spent nearly $900 in fuel. Peaster said before the War on Terror it would have cost $300 less, and drivers aren't getting an increase in pay to make up their losses.

Andy Peaster added, "It's pitiful. It's hard to make it."

Independent truckers also want to be able to form unions and collectively bargain for better contracts from shipping and trucking companies that hire them out.

Bob Myers wishes them luck. He said, "At least they're trying to do something, but I don't think it'll do much good as long as people get their stuff in the stores on time, they don't care much about it."

Items such as furniture, frozen foods and fruit are inside of containers in the ports. We spoke with owners of businesses in Jonesboro that sell steel, flowers and fish. So far, no one has seen any adverse effects, and many don't expect any.

However, Andy Peaster thinks it could cause problems. Both men have heard talk of every driver joining in the strike. Peaster said he may join them, but neither think a stop in the industry will happen.

"If we was to shut down for a while, things may get right, you know, but it's hard to get everybody to stick together," explained Peaster.