Memphis TN next??


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Memphis Truckers Could Join Fuel-Related Strike, Observers Say

SCOTT SHEPARD | Special to The Daily News

Store shelves across the United States could go empty as soon as this weekend, as the nation's independent truck drivers make everyone else share their frustration over fuel prices.
Retail diesel fuel now hovers around $4 a gallon, forcing many drivers to simply park their trucks; that's up $1.40 a gallon from one year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Meanwhile, a grassroots effort is afoot to stage a one-day drivers strike.
"It's something you won't see the organized companies doing, but the independent drivers may strike," said Dwight Bassett, chief financial officer of Memphis-based Builders Transportation Co. LLC. "So much of what people use is delivered by truck, with just-in-time inventory. Even a one-day shutdown in this country would be crippling."
Pleas for understanding

Memphis is particularly vulnerable to a drivers strike because so much merchandise moves in and out of Memphis warehouses each day that the city could be choked with products sitting idle. Clearing out the backlog would take weeks.
Builders Transportation is a truckload carrier specializing in construction materials. The company uses a blend of company drivers and independent owner-operators under exclusive contract.
The strike variable is with the drivers who are not under contract and can pick and choose their jobs.
Bassett has already witnessed a silent protest, as drivers decide that working right now is a money-losing proposition.
Much of the organization of a drivers strike is taking place in cyber space: Dan Little of Carrollton, Mo., hauls cattle and blames rising fuel prices for squeezing his business from three trucks to just one. He's been sending e-mail by the truckload to other drivers, trying to organize a strike that would draw attention to the plight of himself and others.
Voices of the Web

Online forums, such as those operated by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), are full of angry demands for a national show of force. OOIDA is trying to moderate the situation, and last week issued a plea for understanding. OOIDA executive vice president Todd Spencer sought to remind people that truck drivers are not price gouging, but as small-business owners are trying to make ends meet.
Rising prices on everything that is shipped by truck is not a windfall for drivers, he said, but a consequence of the costs of trucking.
"It's a stoppage in the flow of transactions creating a heart attack in the system," said Spencer. "It's an exploitation of shippers, truckers and, ultimately, consumers."
If there is a work stoppage, he said it would be an opportunity to pass through higher fuel surcharges, so truckers don't have to take the burden alone. OOIDA, however, has not called for a shutdown, but only speaks for its members.
"Lawmakers need to know what's going on in trucking, how devastating this record hike in fuel prices is for 90 percent of the nation's fleet," Spencer added.
Eye out for competition

While truckers, for now, are the most vocal, every logistics operation is affected by fuel prices. Despite a 10 percent increase in revenue for the third quarter that ended Feb. 29, FedEx Corp. reported net income down by 6 percent.
The company had quarterly revenue of $9.44 billion, compared to $8.59 billion in the year-ago quarter, but income was $393 million, compared to $420 million last year.
The single largest factor was the cost of jet fuel and truck fuel, according to a company statement.
The simple solution, Bassett said, only seems to be to raise prices or refuse the offered rates. The reality is more complicated. Freight companies have contractual obligations and usually long-term relationships with customers.
Also, while a moving truck might lose money, a parked truck is an expensive, stranded asset. And there's always a competitor willing to undercut the price.
"We're trying to increase rates to match the increases in fuel, but you can only go up so much," he said. "There's always someone out there willing to haul your freight at a cheaper rate."


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Wow! That could be it across the river to W. Memphis, AR, Airport Road exit and you could SHUT DOWN Schneider! They have a huge terminal there...wouldn't take anything to slow things down there. Yeah, I know, we can't interfere with interstate commerce, but darn it sure would be fun!

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