Truckers Protest High Fuel Prices

by Jeff Ruha

This is an edited version of a message posted on the Internet May 4, 2004, by Jeff Ruha, a railroad worker in Minnesota, who is active in the rank-and-file reform movement in the United Transportation Union (UTU). He can be reached here.

For more information, click here or here.

Independent truckers have engaged in creative protest over high fuel prices and have affected Union Pacific intermodal business (see below for links to reports of the protest).

This illustrates the point made in several recent Labor Notes articles pointing out the existence of transportation “choke points” that are vulnerable to limited direct action.

For example, Chris Kutalik and Ron Hume had an article in the April 2004 Labor Notes on the merger between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) and [IBT President] Hoffa’s vision of a “seamless transportation union.” They wrote: “Some industry experts agree that the merger could indeed potentially strengthen the power of North American transportation workers. ‘There is power and leverage to be had in this sector,’ states Edna Bonacich, a sociology professor at the University of California, Riverside, who has compiled research on the growing integration of rail/trucking/longshore work. ‘Logistics (transportation and warehousing) is the [employers’] Achilles’ heel,’ Bonacich observes. ‘The corporations have created extended supply chains that depend on timely delivery. Inventory has been cut to the bone, so that any blockage in the system can cause them major problems. Having one big transportation/warehousing union, like the IBT, means that it would be possible to disrupt the flow of cargo in a coordinated way that could be very damaging.’”

Management as victim of its own success. Of course any serious working stiff looking to pursue this vision of a “seamless tranpsportation union” better get in touch with the Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

Here are a few headlines from the Omaha World-Herald on the independent trucker protest. (For the articles themselves, click on the titles.)

Trucker protest delays some U.P. shipments

Truckers expand fuel protests

Truckers abandon rigs in L.A. protest

See also (click here)

Before there was a UNION, there was simply SOLIDARITY.

“All great reforms, great movements, come from the bottom and not from the top.—Governor John Peter Altgeld (D/Illinois., 1892–1896), 1892

“To help organize in the best way, unions cannot be competing against one another. We need to act like Wobblies, as one big union.”—Glennis Ter Wisscha, one of the Willmar 8


UTU members please check out Roger Griffeth’s reform website

A new Members Against Corruption (MAC) caucus is forming.

Historic opportunity to move the UTU back on track.



If you are a user of remote control locomotive (RCL) technology in the rail industry please go here to take the online survey. If you are not using but know people who are and you would be willing to help distribute paper copies of the survey, they can be found on the same website. You can reach the usual suspects here or snailmail them at

The Eugene Victor Debs Committee
P.O. Box 13058
Dinkytown Station
Minneapolis, MN 55414

There is also a new RCL discussion group forming

Please visit and contribute your two cents worth.


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