New Atlantic owner-op group takes it up a gear

TRURO, NS (April 4, 2003) — A month after staging their inaugural protest, the newly named Association of Canadian Professional Truck Drivers began a recruitment drive yesterday that president Brian Currie says will help the group focus on improving working conditions for truck drivers in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes.

Originally formed last month under the name Truckers for Justice, the association, which currently has a couple dozen members, will be asking regional drivers to join the group in order to help solve several issues that are making business increasingly difficult for owner-operators these days. Although fuel prices are a top priority, Currie says the association has already begun working with insurance companies to reduce health insurance, is underway on setting up national fuel accounts, and will be addressing retirement funds and national tire accounts, as well. However, Currie says, the ultimate goal will be in increasing rates.

“Fuel prices is what triggered everything, but our main goal is making sure the truck rates get up to where they should be,” Currie told Today’s Trucking. “We’re not getting help from the government, the companies themselves don’t seem willing to come together, so it’s up to us.”

Currie, who is so far pleased with initial driver response and is optimistic membership will reach several hundred drivers, says the group has begun looking at strategies adopted in the past by European truck unions, and is also reviewing a “work-to-rule” plan being contemplated by the U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA wants drivers to run in strict compliance with hours of service rules for an entire month to illustrate how much time drivers are losing during unproductive endeavors that are typically logged as off-duty. Currie says he would also like to work with the Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada (OBAC) once his group becomes more stable.

Two hundred independent drivers participated in a fuel price protest last month organized by Truckers for Justice at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border. Currie says he would only stage further protests “as a last resort,” and in such an event, the approach will resemble the protest of last month where drivers were asked to leave their trucks at home and drive their cars to the protest site.

“We don’t want to be blocking highways with trucks,” he says. “We just want to get our message out there without (disturbing) the public.”

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