SAN PEDRO, Calif. — On the other side of the country from Washington D.C., southern California truckers held a protest echoing the concerns of other owner-operators from coast to coast regarding low freight rates.
While the protests in Washington D.C. aimed to physically garner the attention of the federal government and the White House, one of the southern California event’s organizers, owner-operator Miguel Ramirez said this protest was a part of a nationwide effort to call attention the low rates truckers are being offered from brokers for hauling essential goods.
“We are joining a national movement, and it is taking place from the east coast to the west coast as we speak,” Rameriz said, noting that he feels the rating system that determines how much a load pays should be changed or at the very least, analyzed.
“We know it is not going to happen overnight, but we want a change in the pricing and ratings systems, and we just want to bring awareness to the general public,” Rameriz said.
Gio Marz, another of the event’s organizers, echoed the sentiment that the southern California protest aims to be a “peaceful, slow roll for unity.”
He said this legal and peaceful demonstration, which was assembled at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California, will join another convoy coming from Fontana, California. The two groups combined have the potential to number more than 300 trucks, Marz said.
Additionally, Marz said he and the participants see this protest as a way to show they are standing in solidarity with other truckers across the country who have selected May Day (May 1, 2020) for their symbolic ‘mayday’ distress call.
“We want to bring awareness from politicians, to governors, to big corporations, to the everyday consumer,” Marz said. “If you have essential goods on your shelves at your house, it is because, most likely, the truckers brought it to you.”
The planned protest at the port drew more than 60 trucks that lined up, blew their air horns and began a slow drive to Los Angeles City Hall, where they will be joined by the second convoy.
Marz also noted that right now, truck drivers are risking their well-being to deliver goods throughout the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other event organizers, who delivered an address in a mixture of English and Spanish, said, “The place is here, and the time is now,” to recognize the importance of truck drivers and their efforts in carrying the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a risk. Every single time we leave our house, we are at risk,” Marz said. “We’re on the front lines, and we are not getting paid what we deserve. Eighty percent of the truck port drivers [here in LA] are owner-operators like myself. If the rates for the loads are coming down, it does not make sense for us to keep running our trucks businesswise. Today the mission is for us to just unite across the board as truckers and say ‘no’ to cheap freight.”
Marz said his message to brokers is to “stop being greedy,” but he also acknowledges that customers can deal directly with carriers instead of utilizing brokers, which would allow many owner-operators to eliminate another step in the logistics of the supply chain.
The group offered T-shirts commemorating the event for free in exchange for donations that will be used to help pay the fines of other drivers who have received citations during other freight-rate-related protests in the area.