Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
Contact: Norita Taylor, [email protected]
Headquarters: (816) 229-5791
For Immediate Release
OOIDA to Congress:
Truckers can survive COVID-19 as long as you don’t run them out of business
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will bring a straight forward message to a Congressional hearing tomorrow on behalf of the nation’s truck drivers with regard to surviving COVID-19: Truckers are continuing to struggle under COVID, but their biggest concern is being run out of business by lawmakers in Washington.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh will speak as the only witness who has worked as a truck driver at the Protecting Transportation Workers and Passengers from COVID: Gaps in safety, Lessons Learned and Net Steps hearing on Feb. 4 before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Pugh was a trucker and small-business operator for nearly 23 years with roughly 2.5 million miles of safe driving before joining OOIDA’s staff in 2017.
“When many Americans began working from home, truckers continued to crisscross the country, picking up and delivering the things that we all need,” says Pugh. “The media and government were quick to send generous praise for truckers. Now it’s time for Congress to turn that appreciation into tangible support for owner-operators and professional drivers.”
OOIDA’s full testimony includes suggestions on what Congress should do if they truly wish to demonstrate support for small-business truckers and professional drivers.
Among other things, Pugh will urge the Committee to reject imposing unnecessary burdens and costs on truckers as they recover from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, including raising insurance minimums. OOIDA also recommends setting aside federal funding to expand truck parking capacity and repealing the overtime exemption for employee drivers in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In oral testimony, Pugh described the challenges faced by truck drivers during the early days of the pandemic.
“When COVID first hit, shippers and receivers started restricting access to basic amenities. Suddenly, finding a place to use the bathroom was more difficult, even impossible at times,” says Pugh.
“Drivers weren’t able to find masks, hand sanitizer or even bottled water. Ironically, they were delivering everything Americans needed to survive, though they couldn’t actually buy much of it themselves. It was a cruel reality. And it wasn’t until FEMA began distributing items at truck stops that many truckers finally had what they needed.”
Going forward, OOIDA also requests that truckers have better access to vaccines, testing, economic relief, and food and restrooms.
“Finding a decent meal is still tough,” says Pugh. “Many truckers are concerned about the future of their business, an uncertain freight market and new regulations. Some even fear that their business will survive COVID only to be destroyed by Congress.”RECENT PRESS RELEASES:
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