Truckers angry about the high price of fuel staged a rolling protest on
Tuesday, using their big rigs to slow traffic to a crawl on the New
The protest was part of a loosely organized
nationwide effort by independent truckers to draw attention to the high
prices they face....
"The gas prices are too high," said one of them, Lamont Newberne, a
34-year-old trucker from Wilmington, N.C. "We don't make enough money
to pay our bills and take care of our family."
Newberne said a
typical run carrying produce from Lakeland, Fla., to the Hunt's Point
Market in The Bronx, N.Y., had cost $600 to $700 a year ago. It now
runs him $1,000...
"The oil company is the boss, what are we going to be able to do about
it?" said Rotenbarger, who was at a truck stop at Baldwin, Fla., about
20 miles west of Jacksonville. "The whole world economy is going to be
controlled by the oil companies. There's nothing we can do about it."
Well, we talked the other day about how oil industry profits, even at this historic high, amount to twenty cents of current gas and diesel prices. But lets take a more direct comparison. I looked at Google finance for ExxonMobil and Knight Transportation (a large trucker based here in Phoenix). If you sum up sales and net income for 2006 and 2007, ExxonMobil earned 10.2% of sales. During the same period, the trucker earned 9.9% of sales. This is a statistical dead heat. So it is kind of hard to say that trucking companies are suffering at the hand of oil companies when they earn the same profit margins.
So what might be the problem? The article gives a big fat hint that it might not actually be an oil company problem:
Jimmy Lowry, 51, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and others said it costs
about $1 a mile to drive one of the big rigs, although some companies
are offering as little as 87 cents a mile. Diesel cost $4.03 a gallon
at the Jacksonville-area truck stop.
I would certainly be willing to believe that trucking companies are paying independent drivers a price per mile that hasn't kept up with fuel costs. In particular, it may be that the independent truckers have the same problem that Bear Stearns had, ie their revenues are tied into long term contracts while their costs float short term. I'd certainly be bargaining for either higher mileage rates or a new rate structure with a fuel surcharge.