I've spoken with a few friends in the trucking industry, and though they don't want to be identified, they have all said the proposed strike to protest high fuel prices hasn't got much participation in East Tennessee yet.
Still, it's worth noting that the calls for a nationwide strike by independent truckers have been constant since mid-March, such as the efforts found on a site called Trucker-To-Trucker.com.
Quite a few drivers are off the job now, and they have been talking about and debating the strike for weeks. Their effort is called Enough is Enough, and you can check out the debate here, with many comments over the last few weeks.
Independents still have major hurdles - coordinating a time for a strike, loss of income, getting the attention of the media, and the fact that the number of independent truck drivers are just a small percentage of the overall industry, about 10 percent according to estimates found here, and the writer sees the proposed strike may do more to reduce those numbers.
Some drivers may be off the road for days, some may just drive slowly to hinder traffic and gain attention, and another effort may be launched for May 1st.
I'll have some more info on this soon.
UPDATE 2:30 PM
More rumors swirl about the strike - but just as quickly as they rise, others bat them down as mere talk and speculation with little to no results.
I spoke this afternoon with Sharon Donald with Pilot Oil , who said of their Travel Centers "Everything is business as usual today. Absolutely nothing is happening," regarding a strike by independent truckers." She added the only talk about the strike she has been aware of is the talk from media sources like the cable news networks.
WBIR reports that the American Trucking Association says: Through a statement from the American Trucking Association, Tennessee's Trucking Association said they don't support the walk-off. "We would not participate in or condone any strike," ATA Public Affairs VP Clayton Boyce said. "It is hurting the wrong people and would not accomplish what they want to accomplish."
The comments on that report range from the frustrated and angry to statements of support. Also, some other sources I spoke with indicated to me they were being told to downplay any news and simply state there were more rumors than facts about the strike.
The Charleston newspaper The Post and Courier echoes the denial that a strike is taking place.
Still reports trickle in citing stoppages and delays from Chicago to Tampa though the number of those participating is very small.
One of the largest groups of independent drivers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been tracking the frustrations and the anger and hopes at least for increased awareness of the burden of high prices:
"We are repeatedly asked by the media if a strike will have an impact and so we remind them that it’s not just about one day, or one week; it’s about the longer term if diesel prices do not change. Truckers are consumers, too,” said Norita Taylor, OOIDA media spokesperson.
OOIDA leaders say that while the Association cannot legally support a strike, it can and does support individual truckers. The Association also encourages individual truckers to contact their lawmakers now about the fuel situation.
“We do not tell our members what to do; instead, they inform us of what they ARE doing and we support their decisions,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
Spencer said that truckers need to make it known to their elected officials that they are being exploited in the current fuel situation and that action needs to be taken to change the industry.