Comment: Truck Driver Strikes of 1979

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meekandmild's picture

Truck Driver Strikes of 1979

As the U.S. began to ration oil in response to the crisis, President Richard Nixon also led the push for a national 55 mph speed limit. This combination of events pushed many truckers to the brink of financial ruin. In December 1973, independent truckers initiated a strike with former trucker, Mike Parkhurst, leading the movement. The citizen's band (CB) radio, which became a symbol of the iconic 1970s trucker, was a useful tool in spreading the word to other independent truckers and organizing traffic jams to clog major transportation arteries. In 1976, the primary union for truck drivers, the Teamsters, called for a nationwide strike over disputes about wages. It ended after just three days when a new contract was ratified, allowing for a cost-of-living increase and a 30 percent wage hike that would be spread over the next three years. This was, of course, still the era when trucking and the airlines were under government regulation, similar to public utilities. Routes that existed and who could drive them (or in the case of airlines, fly them) were controlled by the government. By the end of the decade, both airline and trucking deregulation would become federal law.