Truckers Protest at Virginia Port

Independent truckers yesterday boycotted the Virginia International Terminals in response to rising diesel prices and low pay. This follows a series of owner-operator protests over the same issues that started in California last Friday. Joe Dorto, general manager of Virginia International Terminals, said that 30 out of 2,000 truckers stopped working. Yesterday 1,356 units of cargo were moved, compared

Independent truckers yesterday boycotted the Virginia International Terminals in response to rising diesel prices and low pay. This follows a series of owner-operator protests over the same issues that started in California last Friday.

Joe Dorto, general manager of Virginia International Terminals, said that 30 out of 2,000 truckers stopped working. Yesterday 1,356 units of cargo were moved, compared with a daily average of between 1,200 and 1,400.

“The protesters had no impact at all on operations,” Dorto told Fleet Owner.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) told the Associated Press that 200 truckers protested in addition to 300 truckers who stayed home.

The truckers complained that brokers aren’t passing along rate increases to owner-operators. That in conjunction with the independent trucker’s obligation to absorb rising fuel costs has hurt their bottom line.

“Losing a day’s pay is not the way to settle this. I don’t think this is an issue we have anything to do with,” Dorto said, noting that fuel surcharges is a legal matter. “It’s easier for them to take a day off than to take this up in court.”

IBT has limited representation of the owner-operators, who are self-employed contract workers with no union affiliation.

“Teamsters advocate for drivers everywhere— we feel a moral obligation to act,” Galen Munroe, IBT spokesperson, told Fleet Owner.

News of the protests spreading to the East Coast does not surprise Dick Larsen, senior editor of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. He predicted that the protests could catch fire nationally, noting that owner-operators face high diesel prices and rate issues nationwide.

“Diesel prices have gone way up recently. It’s not just California, but in the Northeast too. If things continue the way they have been, we expect to see protests there as well,” Larsen told Fleet Owner.

According to a report released Monday by the Dept. of Energy, diesel prices in the Central Atlantic region were $1.74 per gallon, 2.5 cents more than the national average. California diesel prices read $2.27 per gallon, 55.7 cents above the national average.

Virginia State Police was contacted but had not commented by press time.

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