Owner-ops strike at U.S. ports

NEW YORK, (June 30, 2004) — Hundreds of independent truck drivers went on strike this week at several U.S. ports, protesting wages, the cost of fuel and anti-union laws.

These truckers, who get paid by the load, called for a strike beginning on Monday and running through Sunday, according to news reports. It was unclear how many truckers went on strike.

About 200 independent truckers demonstrated at Port Newark, one of the U.S.’s busiest container ports, said a representative for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Another 30 independent truckers went on strike at the Port of New Orleans. Several dozen independent truckers walked picket lines in South Carolina outside the Port of Charleston, the nation’s fourth-busiest container port.

Truckers are upset over rising costs and low wages. The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel was $1.70 last week and has been as high as $1.76 this year. But they also want to be able to form unions and collectively bargain for better contracts from shipping and trucking companies that hire them out, said the Associated Press.

Owner-operators are considered independent business people and are forbidden by U.S. federal price-fixing laws from negotiating or talking with employers together.

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