Reading Between The Lines

Everybody reads the newspapers … at least the headlines. Will Rogers revealed that a long time ago. Newspaper headlines seem to be all that matter to the general public, and that’s what Will Rogers was intimating when he used to say, “I only know what I read in the newspapers”. While his audience was laughing at him, he was laughing up his sleeve at them.

Those in control of things, the so-called industry magnates, fully understand the meaning behind Roger’s famous remark, and they continue to take advantage of the uninitiated masses. Because these masses have allowed themselves to be led along like sheep, they have earned that disparaging epithet. Sheep, of course, are periodically shorn.

Every so often though, someone will put two and two together and lead a counter movement. Resentment, a revolution, and even an organization in one form or another will ensue. After non-violent and/or violent confrontations, leaders on both sides of the issues eventually arrive at a compromised settlement and a temporary truce is declared. But goodwill never arises from these costly encounters and both the shearers and the sheared retreat and retrench.

Review the events of these past few months and you’ll recognize the ingredients of a real brouhaha. Because they’re no different from most of us, truckers are deeply concerned about their take-home pays. Unlike most of us, however, truckers are faced with “diminishing take-home pays” and they’ve done their utmost to seek the aid of federal, state and local government agencies in order to avoid being strangled. Even those in the shipping industry, those beyond our coastal boundaries who have no control over the inadequacies of our so-called “infrastructure”, can hear the pleas of the truckers. Mr. Bruner, the Maersk CEO we often cite, has insisted all along that “the bottom line is, we have to pay the truckers more money”. Almost everyone agrees.

The ones who don’t agree are those who are the direct causes of the truckers’ financial woes … the port authorities. Just a few days ago a study done in 2004 was conveniently recycled, and published by an embedded journalist, indicating that port congestion (back then) was the reason truckers wouldn’t be paid more … right now. It’s clear then, that the truckers are the ones responsible for the port congestion. Right? Well, that’s what the headlines say, so there’s no need to look any further. Will Rogers was so right!

Is it possible that this issue so affects drivers that they might be inclined to look further into this matter? Do you suppose that they may have read what Mr. Richard Coyle, the President of Devine Intermodal, said about PierPASS? “Trying to induce the trucking industry into a nighttime operation is wrong … I do believe that this labor pool has been exploited too long”, he said, and he added that he intended to pay the drivers a portion of the $ 50 fee he planned to charge clients for each load moved during off-peak hours. But Mr. Wargo, of PierPASS, objected to this plan that would add to a driver’s pay. He warned that shippers might lose their incentive (?) to move cargo at off-peak hours if a nighttime charge was imposed. [Maybe that’s his way of saying, “Let ‘em eat cake”.]