Representing essential workers

OOIDA board member featured at Republican National Convention.

October 2020

Mark Schremmer

|

When Monte Wiederhold received an email from a person claiming to be with President Donald Trump’s campaign, the OOIDA board member was skeptical.

“There are so many scams out there. I didn’t know if it was real,” he said.

However, the email was no scam. Wiederhold, an OOIDA life member from Maumee, Ohio, was selected to represent truck drivers as part of a Republican National Convention television segment honoring essential workers.

On Aug. 23, Wiederhold joined six other front-line workers to film the TV spot with President Trump at the White House. The 5-minute, 27-second video was broadcast nationally on Aug. 24.

“These are the incredible workers that helped us so much with the COVID … These are great, great people,” Trump said. “(They are) doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen. We want to thank you and all of the people you represent.”

Wiederhold, who started his trucking career in 1974 and joined OOIDA in 1983, was like many truckers across the nation who continued to haul freight as the virus rapidly infiltrated the United States in March and throughout the spring and summer.

“I own a small business in Ohio, hauling steel mostly,” Wiederhold told the president. “Some of our customers actually make hospital beds with the material.”

Off camera, Wiederhold said the president acted like an everyday guy.

“The president walked in and he was just like, ‘How are you guys doing?’ He was very laid back and nonchalant. Then he started telling us that the essential workers are really heroes. ‘Without you, we’d be in terrible shape,’ he told us.”

The process

Once Wiederhold confirmed that the request was on the level, things started to move fast. Wiederhold made the seven-hour drive to Washington, D.C., and arrived on the morning of Aug. 23.

Before entering the White House, he had to pass a security check and get tested for the coronavirus. By about 2:30 p.m., Wiederhold and the other essential workers were let into the White House’s Green Room.

“I was just awestruck,” he said. “I was pinching myself to see if I was really there.”

OOIDA was happy to have representation at the White House.

“While OOIDA is nonpartisan, it’s important to build relationships with the party heading the administration. We would never turn down an opportunity to meet with any president to talk trucking,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said. “We appreciate the recent invitations from the Trump administration and look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.”

The OOIDA life member has been active in Washington, D.C., in recent years. He testified at a House Small Business Committee hearing in 2017, and he was part of an OOIDA contingent that attended the Fourth of July Salute to America that took place on the White House lawn this summer.

“The things I’ve been able to experience since being a board member is a bit overwhelming,” he said. “Testifying before the House Small Business Committee, going to the White House on the Fourth of July, and now getting to meet the president and represent all of the truckers as essential workers.” LL

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.