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A convoy of some 70 tractor-trailer rigs lined up outside the White House on Saturday to protest low freight rates drivers say are permeating the industry and making it tough to earn a living.
The protest from drivers comes amid decreased demand for trucking services as coronavirus-related shutdowns have devastated the economy and sales of goods have tanked.
The Daily Mail reported that truckers wanted to get President Donald Trump’s attention and to convince him to pressure the industry to boost pay and rates.
The trucking protest took place as other demonstrations against continued lockdowns in states were occurring.
At the White House, truckers adorned their vehicles with pro-Trump paraphernalia and messages, imploring the president to “make trucking great again” — a play on his 2016 campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”
Truckers maintain that rates have fallen so low during the ongoing pandemic that they are having trouble earning a living — and again, at a time when Americans are relying more on the hauling industry to keep store shelves stocked and to deliver goods.
But like the healthcare industry, the prolonged shutdown has had an unexpected effect on the trucking industry.
Many Americans are shocked to discover that, in the middle of a pandemic, hospitals all around the country are mostly empty after having cut out elective surgeries and other outpatient services to ensure enough space to handle an expected influx of sick. The result, however, has been disastrous: Those are ‘bread-and-butter’ services that keep hospitals afloat, economically. Without them, many are now struggling financially, and to deal with the losses, hospitals are having to lay off staff and close entire wings.
The same phenomenon appears to have struck the trucking industry. While food haulers have been kept busy, obviously, continued lockdowns have meant Americans are not venturing out to retailers and big-box stores to purchase home goods and other products. And the longer the lockdowns continue, the longer economic activity will be stunted.
What’s more, the trucking industry hasn’t been targeted for a bailout like the airline industry or hospitals.
Last month, Trump specifically thanked truckers at a White House event. “We say thank God for truckers – that will be our theme, thank God for truckers,” he said.
“At a time of widespread shutdowns, truck drivers formed the lifeblood of our economy,” the president added. “For days and sometimes weeks on end, truck drivers leave their homes and deliver supplies that American families need and count on during this national crisis.
“Their routes connect every farm, hospital, manufacturer, business and community in the country,” he continued. “The moment the invisible enemy landed on our shores, America’s 3.5 million truckers have never wavered at all.”
The protests come amid growing angst across the country, as Americans tire of continued lockdowns and the economic hardships they have created.
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