This is the basic letter I sent out, in various forms, to the Albuquerque Journal, New York Times, USAToday, and Washington Post. Though the content is similar, I tried to customize it for each market.
To the Editor:
Last Tuesday, Arrow Trucking of Tulsa, Okla., abruptly shut its doors leaving around a thousand drivers stranded throughout the country.
I myself worked for Arrow in June and July of this year. I believe there were at least three other drivers from the Albuquerque metro area working there at the same time.
Last week I coordinated assistance to one of the stranded drivers on his way to Loveland, Colo. After turning in the truck he was leasing via Arrow's lease-purchase program, he was turned away by the Freightliner dealer in Kingman, Ariz., and hitched a ride here to Albuquerque with another trucker. The TA at Menaul and University contacted me on Christmas Day, and I got his story out via the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association's (OOIDA) Facebook page dedicated to aiding those stranded (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=1751467846#/SupportArrowTruckers).
I soon received calls from throughout the country, with offers of financial aid, and we soon arranged a relay to get the driver home.
Once home Sunday night, however, he discovered his power had been turned off Saturday, and was fearing frozen pipes in his home. On Monday, he called me again, and again the network of drivers was willing to help, getting his bill paid and power restored.
This, in spite of the fact there has been relatively little local coverage outside areas with Arrow terminals.
Why is it that the loss of a couple hundred jobs, in a localized area, involving union workers with amazing pay and benefits is worth our attention, but the stranding of as many or more, far from home, is not?
I will attest that Arrow's struggles were nothing new, and were not proportionate to the overall economic struggles we all face.
The owner, and the CEO, are wealthy Tulsans who inherited the business earlier this decade, and still maintain a high standard of living. Yet it took common folk, through OOIDA's help and that of several other trucking companies, to get these drivers home -- many not until after Christmas.
It seems America has forgotten the power of the truckers when united. In light of their recent efforts on behalf of Arrow's abandoned workers, and with other companies likewise ready to fail -- such as YRC Corporation, whose creditors are currently negotiating a massive restructuring -- it may not take too much more for the truckers themselves to realize it themselves.
Then, how will we turn a blind eye again?