Last week I posted a blog entry outlining how the spiraling costs of energy, specifically the cost of diesel, were beginning to show cascading effects across global supply chains. In just two days from my post, the momentum of events indicates more cause for concern as well as building protest among U.S. independent truckers. But, the problem remains more structural.
An article posted today in eTrucker.com points to what appears to be a growing momentum of separate protest events regarding the high cost of diesel fuel without pass through compensation. Truckers in New Jersey slowed to as low as 20 miles per hour on the New Jersey Turnpike, while other protests occurred near Chicago, Harrisburg PA, and the Port of Tampa. There is growing concern that momentum is building for more slowdowns or a potential strike action among independent truckers. The article also references the widespread trucker strikes of the 1970’s, which in the end had no effect on diesel prices. While the current spiraling costs of diesel in relation to other fuels is a sign of obvious structural and political problems within our global based economy, my advice to truckers is to channel your protests in more leveraged and mutually beneficial ways. Getting the attention of key political and transportation industry leaders is one positive step, as well as bringing constructive awareness and discourse to the media and Web universe. But this problem will not be solved by mandatory surcharge pass-through. That in my view will make the problem even more problematic for truckers in the long run.
The sobering fact is that structural forces of a dramatically slowing U.S. economy coupled with a lack of any coherent global energy policy will cause more cascading supply chain events. Need another reminder- The BNSF Railway Co., the top hauler of U.S. ocean container rail freight, in an exceptional event, has parked more than 5 percent of its intermodal container railcars (upwards of a 1000 cars stretching for miles) because of the current downturn in international movements. Perhaps a coherent strategy on energy impacts on global supply chains should be a part of the discourse platform of each of the U.S. presidential candidates.