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Jon Osburn and OOIDA’s Tour Truck, the Spirit of the American Trucker, are at the J.D. “Doc” Osburn TA in Boise, Idaho. That’s located at Exit 54 on Interstate 84. Stop in, say hi to Jon, and join OOIDA for a $10 discount. See the full Spirit Schedule. Air date: June 22, 2018.

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A little slip by a good organization

Earlier this week, Trucking Moves America Forward issued a press release recognizing – in their words – “the trucking industry’s work to deliver the holidays through major charitable contributions and the tireless work of its 3.5 million professional drivers.”

Trucking Moves America Forward is an industrywide effort to improve the image of trucking. One of their statements, made more than once, is that truckers have a story to tell.

It’s unfortunate, then, that their story in this press release spent so little time on the efforts of actual truckers – the people behind the wheel.

What did they think was worthy of mention?

Efforts by ATA, Pilot Flying J, Dart Transit, Contract Freighters, National Carriers, Keller Logistics, Pottle’s Transportation and Heritage Transport to support Wreaths Across America. But not the actual truckers who haul the loads.

Programs at Pilot Flying J, ATA, Brenny Transportation, Trinity Logistics, TransLand, BestPass, the Trucking Association of New York and other carriers and organizations to help needy families or shelters for victims of domestic violence.

They mentioned some toy donation programs and some efforts to aide our troops – again, principally mentioning the trucking companies involved.

They properly gave credit to the St. Christopher Fund for helping truckers, but not the thousands of truckers who purchased wristbands at TAs, Petros and other truck stops to fund their efforts.

These are all worthy efforts, deserving of praise. No argument here on that point.

But it is noteworthy that for the overwhelming bulk of the 17 companies and organizations they included, the actual people who drive the actual trucks are mostly absent.

That said, to their credit, in the list they produced they did include:

  • A mention of drivers in one paragraph when they said, “Delano, Minnesota’s Otto Transfer, Inc. is participating in a ‘Stop for Safety Day,’ in which its 25 employees, including 19 drivers, build six high-end bikes for local children …” Thank you, Otto, for including your drivers.
  • And a quick notice about Contract Freighters mentioned “employee and independent contractor-raised donations.” I think we can assume the contractors are truck drivers, though I doubt the general, non-trucking public – to whom this is aimed – would have any idea that was the case. But A for effort, and good for you, Contract Freighters.

OOIDA is one of the organizations involved in Trucking Moves America Forward. To be fair, the image campaign frequently takes truckers into account and has mentioned the contributions of truckers in the past.

It’s also fair to point out that yes, each of these companies employs drivers – so in a sense, they are included. And some of those carriers are good employers as well as good corporate citizens.

But that doesn’t eliminate the importance of pointing out the involvement and commitment of individual truckers. What’s the difference between saying, “Carrier X did something,” versus saying, “Carrier X with its drivers and other employees did something.” Ask Otto Transfer.

I also want to be clear that my intent here is NOT to put the organization down; they’ve done a lot of good for truckers. However, part of the duty of the press is to call people and organizations to account when they could do better.

So in the spirit of “what would you do,” here’s the rest of the story – or at least a few examples.

  • The Truckers Christmas Group, an organization made up of truck drivers which has – each year for several years – gathered donations to provide help to needy trucking families during the holidays.
  • 18 Wheels of Christmas, a food drive organized by two supervisors and involving the truck drivers at Rosenau Transport. The drive that started out helping local food pantries in Calgary and now helping food pantries across Canada.
  • Meals on 18 Wheels, an effort by several people in the trucking community to bring meals to truckers who are working on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Truckers United For Charities, which raises funds all year to benefit charities that help children.
  • Truckers for Troops, in which more than $44,000 was raised this year alone – more than a half million over the 10 years of the effort – to send care packages to troops overseas and to help veterans in care facilities here at home. More than 36,000 members of our military have benefited from those care packages.

We also have numerous individual efforts by truckers to help out – people who open their homes to others on Thanksgiving, people who support food banks, people who supply needed items to the homeless, people who commit small acts of kindness.

Yes, those are harder to find. But that’s where you partners come in. Places like OOIDA, Land Line and other trucking media outlets can help find those truckers so you can give them their due.

Again, my purpose is not to put down or criticize, and I think it is incumbent on me to offer possible alternatives.

Trucking Moves America Forward is right: Truckers do have a story to tell. While we’re mentioning all the companies, it doesn’t hurt – and could help immensely – to mention the people as well.


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