As Trump thanks truckers, OOIDA asks feds to do more for drivers

April 16, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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President Donald Trump recognized four truck drivers, including an OOIDA senior member, during a celebration of America’s truckers on Thursday, April 16.

“At a time of widespread shutdowns, truck drivers form the lifeblood of our economy,” President Trump said during remarks on the White House lawn. “For days and sometimes weeks on end, truck drivers leave their homes and deliver supplies that American families need during this national crisis and at all other times. They’re always there. Their routes connect every farm, hospital, manufacturer, business and community in the country.

“In the war against the virus, American truckers are the foot soldiers that are really carrying us to victory. … I know I speak for the 330 million-plus Americans when I say, ‘Thank God for truckers.’ That will be our theme. Thank God for truckers.”

Standing next to the president were U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, as well as four truck drivers, who have been hauling freight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The truckers being recognized at the White House were OOIDA senior member Tina Peterson, Stephen Richardson, Charlton Paul Jr., and Dylan Madigan.

Peterson, of Blaine, Minn., is a team driver with her husband, Dave Peterson, who also is an OOIDA senior member.

President Donald Trump and OOIDA senior member Tina Peterson
OOIDA senior member Tina Peterson was one of four truck drivers recognized April 16 at a White House ceremony

She said Americans have supported truck drivers during the crisis.

“My husband Dave and I have had a family give us a meal out of their pickup truck at a rest area that they put together for truck drivers. We’ve received thumbs up from motorists on the highways and have seen people standing on the overpass waving American flags to the passing trucks.

“We recognize and appreciate the unique position we are in to deliver aid and keep this economy moving during this challenging time.”

OOIDA response

OOIDA said it appreciated the president’s kind remarks and recognition of truck drivers but significant action needs to be taken in order to show real support for truckers, including small-business trucking companies, which account for 96% of registered motor carriers in the United States.

“Despite the many obstacles both great and small, the majority of our members do what they do because they like the job,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said. “They like meeting the needs of the people and making business and commerce hum. They take pride in what they do and while recognition and appreciation are deserved and nice, the best way to show appreciation needs to be tangible. Improvements in the overall environment for drivers and better pay makes drivers feel appreciated while hard at work and while they are home with family and friends.”

The Association issued a Call to Action to its more than 160,000 members on April 16, asking them to call their members of Congress and make the following requests:

  • Waive the 2020 payment of the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.
  • Include more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • Allow trucking companies to account for additional business expenses, when applying for a PPP loan, including truck payments and insurance costs.
  • Provide more COVID-19 testing and protective equipment at weigh stations and rest areas.

Respective lawmakers can be found by using your ZIP code on the Fighting for Truckers website.

“Since Congress is not in Washington, D.C., right now, please call the local offices listed,” OOIDA wrote. “If you get an answering machine, it’s important to leave a message ­ they will be heard.

“In the meantime, we’ll keep working directly with Congress, DOT, FMCSA, FHWA and other agencies to continue addressing the needs of #RealTruckers.”

The Call to Action came after small-business truck drivers weren’t included in President Trump’s formation of his Great American Revival Industry Groups team for trucking.

OOIDA said the White House needs to listen to the problems of small-business truckers in order to get them the help they need.

“If the White House doesn’t want to hear from small-business truckers, your members of Congress need to,” OOIDA wrote. “Let them know what you’re facing.”

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.