Truckers protest low pay, ask for government support amid COVID-19 pandemic

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Nexstar) — A convoy of 80 small business truckers from across the nation gathered on the Washington D.C. streets surrounding the National Mall to protest low pay during the coronavirus crisis.

The truckers say brokers are charging unfair load rates, even though Americans need them to continue delivering groceries, medicine, medical supplies and all the other essentials items during the pandemic.

Lined up one by one on Constitution Avenue, the truckers honked their horns asking for government to intervene and boost pay.

A truck owner and operator from Florida says the convoy converged to deliver an emphatic message.

“We have guys from Houston, we have people from Florida. We are bringing in food, we are bringing in baby formula, we are bringing in medical equipment…and we are being paid less than minimum wage,” Janet Sanchez said.

Sanchez says before the pandemic, drivers were able to charge roughly $2 per mile, but the rates have dropped as low $0.50 per mile.

“A lot of us have lost our trucks, a lot of us are losing our businesses,” Sanchez said.

Truck owner Rick Santiago owns a small fleet in New Jersey. He says to make matters worse, freight brokers are increasing their take from the trips drivers are making.

“We cannot afford to pay our next truck payment. We cannot afford our insurance,” Santiago said. “We are asking that the brokerage companies are under the same guidelines that we are.”

Robert Voltmann, President and CEO of the Transportation Intermediaries Association, defended brokers in a Youtube video on Friday.

“Brokers don’t set prices, the market does,” Voltmann said in the video. “When there are too many trucks chasing too few loads, rates go down.”

However, Santiago says if the government doesn’t step in to regulate rates it could drive him and thousands of truckers out of business.

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