OOIDA uses TV to address truckers’ concerns during pandemic

Association’s Spencer, Morine take turns on CNBC.

June 2020

Mark Schremmer

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OOIDA spent much of April spreading the word about what truck drivers needed during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Association sent letters to the White House and to members of Congress but also used television to take the message to the general public.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer and OOIDA Board Member Rodney Morine each took part in segments on CNBC to provide people with the truck drivers’ perspective throughout the crisis.

On April 6 and April 20, Spencer drove home the importance of truckers being able to be tested for the coronavirus.

“We’d like some kind of access for drivers to be tested and results back in a timely fashion,” Spencer told CNBC’s Frank Holland on April 6. “Results that come three or four days later simply are of no practical use for people who spend their lives on the road.”

The segment came days after OOIDA sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for “urgent and immediate action” to protect truck drivers as they haul essential freight across the nation.

Spencer told Holland that the national crisis has highlighted how important truck drivers are to society.

“One of the things that has become really clear about dealing with the pandemic as we are is how much we depend on trucks for timely delivery of virtually everything in our lives, including the food and emergency supplies,” Spencer said. “Our members and truckers overall are more in demand now than ever. While that is a blessing and a curse, and they are service-oriented people, but they’re going to have a much greater likelihood of being exposed, and they have very few options once that happens.”

Spencer continued to speak about the importance of keeping truck drivers safe during an appearance on CNBC’s “The Exchange” on April 20.

“The numbers that are concerned with health are growing, and we’re certain more people will be exposed and, quite likely, have the virus,” Spencer said in an interview with CNBC’s Kelly Evans. “Realistically, truckers are first responders. Our whole economy runs on trucks. All of the vital things we need in the stores, they only get there by truck. Even if nothing was wrong, in three days those stores are empty. (Truckers) are critical.”

Spencer joined the show to take part in a segment titled “Road to Relief.” OOIDA spent the past several months working to get the government to help truckers from health and economic standpoints as they haul essential goods across the country.

“(Truckers) go everywhere,” Spencer said. “They go into the hot zones. We think there ought to be greater efforts to provide PPE (personal protective equipment), because we really want to keep them on the job, and we don’t want to get them infected.”

Spencer also addressed the economic concerns truck drivers have been dealing with during the pandemic.

“The relief efforts have generally gone over the top of truckers,” Spencer said. “Trucking is an industry that is predominantly small businesses. Ninety-six percent of truckers work in fleets with 20 or fewer trucks. And right now, the programs they’ve created have missed them completely.”

As freight rates plunge, Spencer said truck drivers are battling to stay afloat in addition to staying healthy.

“The rates that truckers receive for hauling the goods have pretty much been cut in half,” he said. “They’re facing a real economic crisis to be able to continue to operate, not to mention that they are actually on the front line in the battle against coronavirus.”

Truckers need relief

Morine appeared on CNBC on April 28 to tell Holland that many truckers could face bankruptcy if they don’t receive relief soon.

Morine told CNBC he was filing for relief under the Paycheck Protection Program for the second time after being rejected on his first attempt.

“If small companies like myself can’t get the funding, then a lot will go out of business,” he said. LL

Land Line’s Greg Grisolano contributed to this report.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.