“Dave, do you support the Freedom Convoy 2022?”
This question has been posed to me so many times lately, but most notably from my longtime friend Ken Carpenter.
My answer continues to be the same. I fully support peaceful protests – with a major caveat.
Where have you been for the last 20 years?
I got into writing because I was tired of hearing the same issues being raised decade after decade. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the Blue Ribbon Task Force produced by the high-powered muckety-mucks in trucking.
It highlighted the same issues I’ve heard ever since 1988 when I got my licence. Today’s Trucking gave me the assignment to write about 25 things that are better in trucking today than 25 years ago. It was for the 25th anniversary of the magazine and it remains one of my favorite articles. Why?
Because with all of the negativity in the industry, it seemed like a daunting task to highlight 25 good things. Once I got started, there were more than 40, some of which overlap, but it was far easier than I expected. You can still find this article in the archives if you’re interested.
We have been good at publicly pointing out the problems in our industry. We’ve not been very good at promoting the good.
What does any of this have to do with the convoy?
The vax mandate is the straw that has broken the camel’s back in trucking. It is the latest in a long line of problems. Disrespect. Horrible pay. Unsanitary facilities for drivers. Safety. Lack of proper training. Retention. I can go on.
What have we done about these issues? Ken and I, and many others like Dan Dickey from B.C., have been pleading with drivers to stand up and speak out for years! Begging! If you’re being disrespected, speak up! When something isn’t right, speak up! What’s happened? Crickets, by and large. The number of drivers who have taken advice is pretty small. “They’re too big to fight.” “I’ll lose my job.” “I’m loyal.” “I’m just a dumb trucker, what do I know?”
We have asked employers to shape up. I have been in seminars and webinars promoting the value of a mental health strategies and respect for drivers. Middle managers have been receptive, but it’s very hard to make a difference if the CEO isn’t on board.
Trucking associations play an important part but they need to stop being a parrot for large corporations or the government. There’s lots of talk in Ontario over the washrooms and facilities for drivers, but I haven’t noticed any improvement. Service areas and truck stops still don’t cater to truck drivers.
I asked a trucking company owner once to give me the work I was hired to do. I was in a select part of the fleet that pulled long combination vehicles (LCVs) and there was a lot of favoritism on display in dispatching loads.
I was only on LCVs for 45% of my miles and all I wanted was to get to 55%. Others were way above 50%. Some were, like me, frustrated. I had been offered a chance to go up to the ice roads for a couple months. The money was enticing but I wanted to stay where I was if I could be promised a little more parity. His response? “Have a nice time on the ice. I’ll see you in a couple months.”
That hurt. As a writer, I always made sure to present myself and that company in a good light, knowing that I’m in a spotlight. That owner assumed that I was just another pushover. Just a driver. I never went back there.
Speaking up isn’t always profitable. You will catch some heat. You may lose a job. But the people behind you, those who look to you for support, to do the right thing? They’ll be empowered to stand their ground.
So, you want to convoy? Go ahead, but please don’t let it end there. Keep using your voice in a reasonable, respectful manner every day.
We’ve been standing up for our rights for decades. Glad to have you along!
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