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Let's get them home for Christmas!

By now, everybody has probably heard that Arrow Trucking out of Tulsa shut their doors yesterday. Somewhere around 1400 drivers had their fuel cards shut off and were told to turn the truck in at the nearest Freightliner dealer, who would help them get home.

OOIDA reports that Daimler may be paying up to $200 toward alternate transportation for these drivers. From OOIDA: “Stephanie Ortega, who works in the Fleet Services department at Daimler, said she was instructed to tell drivers to drop their vehicles off at the nearest Freightliner dealership and to leave their keys with an attendant there or at a truck stop if they are out of fuel. Ortega said drivers are asked to then call Daimler at 877-294-9679 and she and others there ‘can get them a bus ticket through Greyhound or the company will reimburse up to $200 for alternative transportation costs.’ However, one drawback to the plan is that drivers are on their own to find transportation to a local Greyhound station once they have surrendered their trucks.”

That is, if they’re driving a Freightliner – no word on those with an International. Tulsa TV is showing tow trucks picking up the tractors at the terminal – guess the lease payments were seriously late. The grapevine says Arrow couldnt borrow the cash to pay for fuel on Monday. Yet, they dispatched these guys, under load, to all corners of the country.

It’s one thing to lose your job. It’s even bearable to lose your job the week of Christmas. But to lose your job a few thousand miles from home, and to risk being evicted from what is effectively your home with no prior notice is beyond belief! Hats off to Daimler – they’re doing more than the company did for these drivers, many of whom found that their last paycheck bounced. Some of these drivers were just hired and haven’t even received a paycheck yet. And I’m hearing some of them may have drawn their usual paycheck on their fuel card, which they also wont be able to access.

Because a long-haul driver usually has a small apartment’s worth of possessions in their truck, the offer of a bus ticket may not help them much. They’re out there selling their belongings to get enough fuel to make it to a dealer somewhere near home. If your sitting at the local truck stop, the best thing you can do for these stranded Arrow drivers is give them a ride. Next best is to give them some fuel money - $20 likely wont break you and if enough hands do this, they may be able to get a tanks-worth closer to home. If that driver has a pet in the truck with them, they’re doubly screwed: you cant take a dog on ‘the dog’! If they’re forced to take Greyhound, are they supposed to abandon their hairy co-driver/partner? If you can help them out with car rental, that would be great!

OOIDA has put up a Facebook page to help match rides. Drivers can locate it here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-for-Stranded-Arrow-Trucking-Drivers-Coordinate-Efforts-HERE/213591833387?ref=nf  They’re matching drivers for transportation.

The following is copied from the Rollye James Radio Show blog . . she’s got info and resources listed. Thanks for being a good trucker’s support system, Rollye! You’ll find Rollye on XM158 from 11-2am EST five nights a week. You can reach her blog at www.rollye.net.

“Fortunately, you're not alone. Not only are many drivers in your position but the drivers who aren't and others who care are reaching out. We got a lot of suggestions and I promised we'd provide all the info in writing here.

Maggie is matching drivers and riders. If you can give a driver a ride home, or if you're a driver needing a ride, please call her. 417-200-4411. Or check the forum section of www.csasylum.com.

If you're traveling with a pet, Animal Radio may be able to help. Call 866-405-8405 and leave a message if there's not answer. Several of their sponsors are making dog food available to you now.

Looking for work? Here are some suggestions from drivers who say these companies are hiring right now and may be able to get you from where you now are to their locations:

Celadon: 1-800 CELADON in Indianapolis
Willis Shaw (WSE) 1800-564-6973
PGT Trucking 800-337-0108
If you're in Alabama, 800-TEAM PGC
United Road Serviers 800-422-7925
ACT Trucking 800-445-5235
Navaho Express 800-525-1969
Transport America 800-447-1211
Buel Inc 866-369-9744

If you're interested in car hauling, call Toby: 901-581-6650.

The Oklahoma Labor Commission may be able to help you when it comes time to fight for back pay and benefits 888-269-5353. They can probably answer most of your questions.”

Together, we can get these guys home with a bit more than the shirt on their backs. In time for Christmas. Later, we’ll figure out what needs to happen to stop these kinds of things from happening to drivers. Every couple of years, this happens with a bigger company – it happens almost daily with the small ones. Nearly every time, some driver ends up hitch-hiking down the interstate. There needs to be better protection under the law – perhaps enough in a secure escrow account to get every driver – and their dog, tv, tools, gear -  home safely. This is unconscionable! There really ought to be a law . . .

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