Archive for July, 2011
When that mystical "good old days" encounter we all love to talk about is described, the main point always seems to revolve around the drivers who would pull over when they saw a broke down truck to help. This drivers helping drivers theme is the center point of most of the things we as a group want this charity to accomplish.
Among the tasks we set for this charity is helping truckers who are helping small communities across America. Using the directed donation aspect, we can allow drivers/truck owners to write off their expenses while doing work for small communities that are not getting the attention of the media nor the big national charities.
Our work for those truckers and small communities includes gathering donations in locations so that willing truckers can transport them to the small town rescue squad or church that will distribute the donations in the affected community.
Helping us to help in this way, ABF has donated to us a few trailers that we can use both as collection sites, and as portable dry storage to lend to the communities so they can receive donations.
It certainly is refreshing to find a company that has such generous drivers run by people who match that generosity. Thank YOU ( all of you from the president to the janitors) ABF. You certainly demonstrate with your people and your management the spirit of the American trucker who would pull over walk back and say, "How can I help you?"
When we arrived the people of the rescue squad were so glad to see these trailers.
Thank you again ABF.
Our charity was asked to help truckers help the citizens who have been so profoundly affected by the recent natural disasters. After some discussion we realized that we could by applying for expedited approval of our 501c3 from the IRS use our directed donations clause to allow the charity to be used by truckers to accomplish their own missions to bring aid and comfort to these victims of disaster and guarantee that those efforts were legally charitable donations for income tax purposes. The items being transported are the donations of drivers and other citizens, the people being succored with these donated items are drivers and other citizens, but the donated activity is done by truckers and our mission is to assist truckers. That activity is the transportation of those donations from the donor to the recipient.
As individuals we proceeded with this mission. Now that the IRS has informed us that our 501c3 status is approved, we stand ready to assist any driver who wishes to contribute to that mission. One of the pickup loads of donations gathering at the Travel Centers of America in Jeffersonville, Ohio. Thank you Bootlegger, thank you drivers from ABF, and thank you employees of the Travel Centers of America for helping us to help truckers help Americans in need!
While the MATS show was still ringing in their ears, several truck drivers met in the parking lot at PAPA JOHNS Stadium and sitting at a folding table in the parking lot agreed to form a formal 501 (c) 3 charity to formalize actions many of them had been doing for years.
They actually came to unanimous agreement to all the basic matters that needed to be agreed upon to to make this combination of their separate efforts.
Some of the drivers had drifted away from previous efforts for various reasons, but they were invited to help this new legal corporation. Some of these drivers walked into the meeting and said the magic words “I want to be part of this”.
The small group of founders had some criteria that precluded many people who would in fact have made good members of the new organization except for their own personal financial conditions. The small group of founders used one powerful criteria for their decisions , “will this decision make this organization grow and help more people sooner”.
The selections of people to be on the board or to work as activist members was difficult because many good people existed who did not have the financial structure in their own lives to do what would be needed to be done at their own expense. Some we knew that, some we simply could not know and did not want to embarrass by asking.
The campfire article I posted here was actually written while this meeting was being planned.
A few months later our little community became a legal formal charity, the JRB Memorial fund for Truckers Inc. In the interim we as a group were active because we are of course only formalizing what we all have been all along, truck drivers of the old school community.
Among the things some of our members got involved in was disaster relief to 6 communities in North East Alabama. We had a contact with a small trucking firm who put us in contact with a rescue squad. We had members who worked for large national companies that could furnish out of service trailers to be donated for dry storage. We had members and made a new member or two out of volunteers who involved themselves in this project proving themselves to be trucker community members of the sort we were organizing. One of our members was active with TCA truck stops and had help from the truck stops gathering donations from the general public and other truckers. One of our members working through a church has done spectacularly at getting donations for the people affected. None of these actions is something the formal charity was founded to accomplish, but all of these actions are demonstrations of the trucking community ethos that causes this charity to exist. This effort was all done by members at their own expense and demonstrated for the fledgling board the reasoning the founders used in the selection process under the rules this charity is determined to operate under.
We received an e-mail from Leland Martin who was trying to collect donations and furnish an electric wheelchair to someone the trucking community knows but who is not a trucker, Country Dan. We posted that email on our web site to help it receive wider circulation and immediately received offers of several existing chairs. As I write this, one of them is at his personal expense in transit to the intended recipient. It is being transported by Leland Martin. Leland has constructed and will install on Dan’s car a rack to transport the chair so that Dan can go back to work. Another chair is in transit to a warehouse where it will be furnished new batteries and await a need to present itself. That effort again proves the community of truckers still exists. None of these actions were formal actions of our charity. Much of this effort involves people who are not even members of the charity, or who are members of other formal truckers charity groups. The chair going to the warehouse has participation by 4 formal charities and a medical supply company. It really proves the community is alive and well.
I hear the ghostly collective applause for todays truckers both those of us who are involved in formal charity work, and those who continue to go about their runs but who help each other when they encounter a need.
The camp fire at the edge of town is burning brightly.
Last week I listened to Ellen Voie for 2 hours on the overnight show, America’s Trucking Network on 700WLW, from Cincinnati, OH. She was on live for two hours Sunday night / Monday morning. I then attended an open conference on the “All Drivers Together” conference line Wednesday evening at 6 pm on July 20th. Interested parties can actually hear both of these sessions as WLW has pod casting for the ATN show and All Drivers Together records their conferences. I will put links to both of these at the end of this article.
I have been wondering about this organization and my questions became more insistent after the Mats show in Louisville, KY this year when I realized that men were not invited to participate in a discussion session with the leadership of Truck stops of America that was held at the truck show by the Women In Trucking organization. I did not use my press credentials the Mid America Truck show provides me because I was busy covering the recorded broadcast WLW was making at the truck show. While listening to Ellen on WLW I came away with several distinct impressions. The first being that she was trying to give the impression that women in trucking was advocating for women’s’ issues in the trucking industry, specifically women truck driver issues. She brought with her on the show another woman who she introduced as a truck driver and dispatcher. The two of them parsed their language so as to leave you with the impression that the other woman was mostly a truck driver who did some dispatching. Ellen herself even mentioned that she ( Ellen) was a graduate of a truck driving school, holding a CDL, and that she wrote a book about her experiences going through the school.
Ellen came to the All Drivers Together conference alone. Again she explained the purpose of Women In Trucking, but she did not express that she was advocating for women truck driver issues but that she was advocating for women issues in the trucking industry.
Ellen Voie left Trucker Buddy and went to work for Schneider National as a recruiter. Then she received higher education in the forming of associations and community organizing. Also while she was working at Schneider National she created Women In Trucking as a 501(c)6 organization. When asked what her duties were at Schneider National she said it was to increase recruiting of non traditional persons into the trucking industry. I have to admit that when she listed people exiting the military as non traditional my reactions caused me to spend 3 minutes wiping the coffee of my windshield. Evidently Ellen has not seen the demographics of the returning military entering the trucking profession during the last recession in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Evidently she has no idea what percentage of the returning military enter the trucking industry and successfully remain there for life.
The All Drivers Together conference invites questions from all listeners. They do not prescreen questions. If you listen to the recording of that conference and compare it to the questions from the callers to Americas’ Trucking Network you will actually get a pretty good picture of Women In Trucking as Ellen Voie is trying to portray it to truck drivers. She did a pretty good job of applying lipstick to a pig.
So why do I say it is a pig? Because if you sort through everything she said you will realize the she might be claiming as a sideline to advocate for women truck driver issues. She is actually just one more group with the same tired issues and the same tired stereotypes making a living by claiming women are not given equal treatment in the United States. She is using women’s’ issues to create a well paid job for herself as a woman’s advocate by being a recruiting tool for big companies that can buy into her organization so that they can claim to be out front on woman’s’ issues while doing little themselves to investigate or solve woman truck driver issues.
In answer to one specific question, she openly admitted to running this group in violation of it’s own bylaws, which to me is just a further example of “the rules don’t apply to us” elitism you see so often from those who would social engineer our country. The bylaws require one woman truck driver on the board of directors, but they do not have one because it was more important to have a high ranking member of a corporation so the lowly driver had to resign and she was not as required by those bylaws replaced. Every action taken since that recognition is therefor in violation of the groups own bylaws.
If Women In Trucking was, in fact, an advocacy group for women who drive trucks you would think that some percentage of their board of directors would consist of some percentage of women who drive trucks. This would give women who drive trucks votes in their board of directors meetings and the ability to direct this organization to address women who drive trucks issues. At this point in violation of their own bylaws they do not even have ONE woman driver on the board.
The mission statement of Women In Trucking, the actions the group has taken, and the composition of both the membership and the board of directors lead me to conclude that possibly this organization is little more than a recruitment tool for big carriers to buy into. By advocating for women’s issues in general and using the word trucking in their title, the have aimed this recruitment tool at a certain demographic while offering nothing to those women in that demographic except recruiting information from those carriers willing to buy memberships. By claiming to offer anti harassment literature they also provide for their member companies only a tool to use should they actually be defending themselves from claims of harassment by women who work there. By limiting what they do, both in recommendations on their website and the acquisition of whatever written materials they claim will help prevent harassment experienced by women in the industry to members only, they are showing a callous disregard for women who do not work for their member companies or they are paying back their member companies by directing women by default away from non members. This organization has by its own actions shown itself to be nothing more than a paid recruiting tool and shows little interest in actually improving the conditions experienced by the women in the trucking industry they pretend to represent. What a shame.
If this organization actually was trying to improve the situation of all women in trucking their information would be available to the entire trucking industry whether you were a member or not. Does it not seem logical that if this organization was advocating for women who drive trucks, women who drive trucks would be on the board of directors whether they represented large corporations or individual drivers.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or anyone else.