Independent Truck Drivers Strike Against Diesel Costs - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/01/08- East Texas

Independent Truck Drivers Strike Against Diesel Costs

Record-high diesel fuel prices are causing local independent truck drivers to go on strike. Many drivers here in East Texas and across the country are parking their big rigs at home until something changes. In Tuesday's pain at the pump story, KLTV 7's Courtney Lane talks to local truck drivers about the strike and what they hope to get out of the protest.

What they are really hoping for is a pay raise. Truck drivers we talked to don't think diesel fuel prices are going down anytime soon and don't think insurance companies will lower their rates. Some independent truck drivers said it costs them over 1,000 dollars to fill up their big rig tanks. They said that's driving them close to bankruptcy.

"If it wasn't for the truck I'd be homeless," said independent trucker Jon McMillan.  "That's where I live, that's how hard it's gotten."

For independent truckers, the road of life is looking grim. Everything from maintenance, to food, to gas comes out of their own pocket.

"The fuel prices are outrageous right now, I mean, everything moves by truck," said truck driver Frederick Baxter.  

They said the record-high diesel prices are cutting a big chunk out of their profit.

"It's driving us into bankruptcy, I mean we can't get anywhere," said independent truck driver Sabrena McMillan.  "All your profits are going out your pipes."

"It just doesn't add up, so really, it's like you're spinning your wheels out here," said independent driver K.T. Thompson.

"With maintenance, tires, and a trailer and truck and the other things I was still profiting 1,000 dollars a day," said McMillan.  "That's gone down to now possibly anywhere from 250 to 500."

Truckers said the road is so hard right now, many are getting out of the business.

"You see trucks now parked on the side of the road, with for sale signs," said McMillan.  "A lot of owner-operators that are true owner-operators that aren't leased on to a bigger company, are selling. They're selling their stuff or parking it until the prices come down; till they start making money out here again."

"Exxon and all them are raking in record profits, where's it going," asked McMillan.

"We're hoping to get more money out of the freight companys, you know, the brokers and stuff. Instead of them pocketing the money... Give it to the drivers," said Sabrena McMillan. 

Some truckers said they've had to cut down to eating one meal a day and some are even selling and pawning things to make ends meet. They said the strike will last a couple of days at least. Many here in East Texas began their strike at midnight Monday.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com  

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