Angry truckers staged a “10-4” protest on the Mall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, above, to call attention to increasingly onerous government regulations that threaten the livelihood of independent owner-operators. When truckers use citizens band radio, “10-4” means, “I get the message.” Similar actions took place in South Dakota, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana.
“Forty-four truckers gathered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Oct. 3, dropped our trailers, and drove up to the Mall in Washington, D.C., the next day for the protest,” Chelly Bartow Menkhoff, vice president of United States Dedicated Drivers, told the Militant in a phone interview Oct. 8. Her husband Harry Menkhoff, inset, is an independent operator.
“Everything we use or eat was brought in by a truck,” Chelly Menkhoff said. “The truckers move the country, not the government. But the government makes rules and regulations” that undercut safety and increase costs. Some states are proposing big increases in the minimum required insurance for truckers. Others are pushing measures favoring driverless trucks.
Two eastern Kentucky Blackjewel coal miners and their wives — Chris and Stacy Rowe and David and Wanda Pratt — drove to Washington to join the protest. The Menkhoffs met the miners when they visited Cumberland, Kentucky, to back miners blockading the rail tracks of Blackjewel, a bankrupted coal company. The coal bosses stole the miners’ final paychecks and then tried to move coal out to sell.
“The miners won because we got our point across,” Wanda Pratt told the Militant. “You can’t do to workers what Blackjewel tried to do to the miners without getting a fight.”
South Dakota truckers organized by a group called “The Disrespected Trucker” carried out a “slow roll” on interstate highways around Sioux Falls, then continued to Pierre, the state capital, and some drove on to the Mall.
“We’re planning a public protest meeting with an open mic Oct. 24 in Pierre,” Shawn McIntosh, 58, an owner-operator from South Dakota, told the Militant. “Trucks without drivers are going to kill a lot of people. All this technology is so they can put us out of business. Is it worth people getting killed?”