Truckers band together for change

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OTTAWA, Ont. – Seven long-haul driver-based organizations are joining forces in a move they hope will even out the balance between drivers and carriers.

The group is so far known as The Standing Committee on Trucking.

Members of the new organization include the United Steelworkers of America, CAW Canada, the Greater Ottawa Truckers’ Association, Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the National Truckers’ Association, and the Owner/Operators’ Cooperative.

“The fuel price crisis is just the latest in a long string of problems plaguing the industry,” said Rick Beckwith, president of the Owner/Operators’ Cooperative and one of the group’s founding members.

“Bringing down the price of fuel will only bring temporary relief to drivers who face a wide range of other concerns. These include holdbacks, deductions from pay, low remuneration, excessive waiting time, empty miles, load brokers, high insurance premiums, intentional underpayment, too many trucks on retainer, and even outright deceit and intimidation,” he said.

Beckwith said that drivers who talk to politicians about these problems are met with concern, but then don’t see anything change.

“By getting together and developing a plan of action, we will bring much-needed changes to the industry,” he said.

The group will work with transportation experts on a study of Canadian trucking that will examine all areas of highway transport and emphasize the relationship between drivers and carriers.

“We wrote a letter to John Manley (Federal Industry Minister) asking for the chance to meet with him and see if there’s any help there for us in the way of a grant,” Beckwith told Truck News. “Something has to be done. The trucking industry has to operate in this country or we’ll have a lot of problems.”

The group will also negotiate a standard purchasing agreement.

“Merging the economic clout of drivers will lead to real savings when buying essential goods and services.”

The owner/operators also plan to develop a standard contract to serve as a model when negotiating terms and conditions with carriers.

“The people who perform one of the most vital jobs in the nation are being badly treated. Nobody promised them it would be easy, but the bargain didn’t include the increasingly difficult problems associated with getting out on the highway every day. We hope our action plan will help address the balance,” said Beckwith. n

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