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READ IT: Truckers Send Letter To Trump Warning Supply Chain Could Be In Jeopardy

By  James BarrettDailyWire.com
Truck drivers take a rest at the Westborough Service Plaza in Westborough, MA along the Massachusetts Turnpike on March 26, 2020. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a majority of people to work from home, most of the nations 3.5 million drivers have kept rolling, trying to mitigate unprecedented supply chain disruptions by continuing to move goods around the nation. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Truckers associations and trucking industry officials are sounding the alarm over a potential disruption in the all-important supply chain if more action to protect drivers is not taken.

In an open letter addressed to President Trump on Friday, the Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) issued an “urgent” message titled “HELP — MAYDAY — 9-1-1.”

“Urgent and immediate action is demanded to safeguard our nation’s supply chain,” the letter, signed by OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer.

“Small-business truckers and professional drivers are the vital link to it all, putting their lives on the line for the good of the nation,” the letter continues. “Every day they are exposed to COVID-19 because of the critical service they provide for all of us. EVERY SINGLE DAY. They run in and out of the hot zones and without question they are exposed. They don’t have access to PPE or any practical means to know when they may be falling ill or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation.”

“Access to testing must be available where they are, particularly on busy truck routes,” writes Spencer. “And testing must show results in hours, not days. Along with that we need a strategy for treatment or quarantine that could take place at nearby motels.”

“Right now professional drivers are busting their butts to care for the nation,” he stresses. “Their hard work and personal sacrifice should not include their health or even their lives if at all possible or preventable. Once word spreads that drivers are testing positive, we could very well see a tremendous reduction in drivers willing to risk everything for the rest of us.”

“We need a plan for them. We need help,” the letter concludes. “Do it.”

As The Kansas City Star reports, Spencer is not the only industry leader calling for swift action to stave off a possible supply chain disruption. The Teamsters National Freight Division is also calling attention to the potential problem.

Predicting that “things are going to get worse before they get better,” Teamsters National Freight Division Director Ernie Soehl said Friday that they’ve already seen some terminals at which employees have tested positive for the virus and were forced to quarantine multiple people as a result. One terminal was temporarily shut down due to a lower-level supervisor testing positive, Soehl explained, resulting in “approximately 18 members and six non-bargaining unit employees who had been in contact with that supervisor” to be “placed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine.” A similar situation played out at another station, he said.

Some steps to help ease the situation for truckers have already been taken, including the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) suspending a law prohibiting commercial activity in interstate highway rest areas, allowing commercial food trucks in those areas, the Star notes.

“FHWA recognizes that in those states food trucks may provide vital sustenance for interstate commercial truck drivers and others who are critical to the nation’s continued ability to deliver needed food and relief supplies to the communities impacted by the economic disruptions and healthcare strains caused by COVID-19,” reads a press release issued Friday.

As the Star highlights, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao took a moment during a March 31 interview to recognize truckers and express the agency’s support of the crucial role they play in the country. “So many more people now understand that it’s due to truckers and trucking companies that food shelves in a supermarket get stocked, or that gasoline stations are able to sell gasoline,” said Chao. “All these products don’t appear by magic. We are able to live and take care of our families during this very special time because of the hard work of truckers throughout the country.”

Full text of the open letter from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association below:

HELP — MAYDAY — 9-1-1

April 3, 2020

Dear President Trump:

Urgent and immediate action is demanded to safeguard our nation’s supply chain.

Small-business truckers and professional drivers are the vital link to it all, putting their lives on the line for the good of the nation.

Every day they are exposed to COVID-19 because of the critical service they provide for all of us. EVERY SINGLE DAY. They run in and out of the hot zones and without question they are exposed. They don’t have access to PPE or any practical means to know when they may be falling ill or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation.

Access to testing must be available where they are, particularly on busy truck routes. And testing must show results in hours, not days. Along with that we need a strategy for treatment or quarantine that could take place at nearby motels.

Right now professional drivers are busting their butts to care for the nation. Their hard work and personal sacrifice should not include their health or even their lives if at all possible or preventable. Once word spreads that drivers are testing positive, we could very well see a tremendous reduction in drivers willing to risk everything for the rest of us.

We need a plan for them. We need help. Do it.

Sincerely,

Todd Spencer

President and CEO OOIDA

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