Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Summary and conclusions
 Surface transportation assistance...
 1983 truck striker broker...

Group Title: Economics report - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; no. 108
Title: The 1983 independent truckers' strike
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027714/00001
 Material Information
Title: The 1983 independent truckers' strike an assessment of the effects on the Florida produce industry
Series Title: Economics report
Alternate Title: Nineteen eighty-three independent truckers' strike
Physical Description: iv, 43 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Beilock, Richard
Comer, Dorothy A ( Dorothy Adele )
Butler, Valerie
Publisher: Food and Resource Economics Dept., Agricultural Experiment Stations, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: [1983]
Subject: Strikes and lockouts -- Trucking -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Farm produce -- Transportation -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 43).
Statement of Responsibility: Richard Beilock, Dorothy Comer, Valerie Butler.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "October 1983."
Funding: Economics report (University of Florida. Food and Resource Economics Dept.)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027714
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002199026
oclc - 21683749
notis - ALD8906

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Summary and conclusions
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Surface transportation assistance act
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
    1983 truck striker broker survey
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
Full Text
"October 1983

Economics Report 10E

The 1983 Independent Truckers' Strike:
An Assessment of the Effects
on the Florida Produce Industry


From January 31 to February 10, 1983, the Independent Truckers
Association staged a strike in opposition to the pending federal fuel
and road use tax increases for heavy trucks. In order to see if the
truckers were effective in disrupting movement of produce out of
Florida, truck brokers and shippers were surveyed. The surveys examined
preparations made by brokers and shippers for the strike, the percent of
carriers which went on strike, delays and incidence of orders lost
during the strike, and elicited comments about the effectiveness of the
strike. In addition, freight rate and shipment levels during and around
the time of the stike were examined.

While it would have been desirable to collect data that would allow
more complete analysis of the financial impact on all parties involved,
limited resources precluded this. For example, the truck industry is
such that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, the iden-
tify the incidence of bankruptcies among independent truckers. To use
the data collected to extrapolate economic effects would be risky and
potentially misleading.

This study, however, does provide some important findings. First,
receivers attempted to stockpile commodities in order to dampen the
impact of the strike should it prove to be a long-term one. This in-
creased demand resulted in shipments increasing rather than decreasing
during the strike period. Just prior to the strike, there was a slight
surplus of truckers to haul produce. This meant that there were car-
riers for which the costs of striking, in terms of forgone loads, were
not great. It also meant, however, the a very large proportion of
truckers would have needed to strike before the flow of goods would be
seriously impaired.

Shippers took advantage of capacity available on the railroads.
One important result of this is that, although after the strike ship-
ments via railroad decreased, they were at a higher level than before
the strike. Not only were the railroads carrying a larger percent of
produce shipments after the strike, they were carrying a greater variety
of commodities. Freight rates charged by brokers increased 12 to 24
percent during the first four days but they tapered off as carriers
returned. There were areas of the country, in particular the Northeast,
where it was more difficult to arrange carriage and some orders were
unable to be filled. Overall, however, brokers, shippers and receivers
found the strike to be mild enough that they could operate essentially
on a business-as-usual basis.

Key Words: transportation, truck, strike

Table of Contents


ABSTRACT .............* ......*..................*.....*** ******** i

INTRODUCTION... ..............................................***** 1

BACKGROUND............................. ...................... 2

Market Conditions at Time of Strike............................ 2

DATA............................................................. 5

Shipper Mail Survey...............*......... *.................. 6
Shipment and Rate Data......................................... 6

RESULTS......................................................... 6

Shipper and Broker Strike Preparation Strategies............... 6

Overview of the Strike........................ .............. 8

Proportion of Truckers Striking................*............* 8

Shipment Amounts during the Strike........................... 11

Total shipments..................................*** .****** 11
Shipments by TOFC. ................... .................. ... 12
Time to arrange carriage................................... 18
Carrier reluctance to serve specific areas................. 19
Rates, ..... ......... ......... ...* ..* ......*** ******... ****** 20
Comment on violence and the media........*................. 23
Short term effects................................*........ 23

Long term effects........... ........*****........*.....******** 24

Truckers........................******** *****************.*** 24
The railroad.............*............................ .. .. 25

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.......................................... 26

APPENDIX 1....................................... ....... 32

APPENDIX 2........................ .... ...... *................. 35

REFERENCES...... ....... ....... ..... .* ............* ..** .*.* 43


List of Tables

Table Page

1 Incidence of truckers on strike as perceived by
produce shippers..........................********* 9

2 Incidence of truckers on strike as perceived by
brokers .......... ................* ......**** ****** 11

3 Length of time for brokers to arrange carriage.......... 17

4 Difference in time to arrange carriage by destina-
tion, as compared to pre-strike period.................. 18

5 Shippers and brokers reporting having lost orders
during the strike............................... ..... 19

6 Difficulty in arrange loads by regions.................. 20

7 Rates per box pr crate reported by brokers for
selected commodities before and during the strike
by destination.......................* ........ .****** 22

List of,Figures

Figure Page

1 Produce Shipments from Florida by Truck and Rail........ 3

2 Percent of carriers striking in Florida at selected
points in time during the strike.................1..... 10

3 Total fresh fruit and vegetable shipments from Florida
December 31, 1982-March 27, 1983 (excluding overseas
exports)..... .................... .... ....... ....... 12

4 Trailer-on-flatcar total fresh fruit and vegetable
shipments from Florida, December 13, 1982 March 27,
1983 ................................................... 14

5 Percent of total fresh fruit and vegetables shipments
from Florida shipped by trailer-on-flatcar, December
13, 1983 March 27, 1983 (excluding exports over-
seas).... ........... ................*.** ..........*. 15

6 Percent of shipments by trailer-on-flatcar that were
citrus, radishes, and tomatoes.......................... 16

7 Average rates to ship citrus, tomatoes and potatoes
to Atlanta (-), Chigcago (--) and New York (-f-)....... 21


List of Figures (continued)

Figure Page

8 Percent of total trailer-on-flatcar shipments that
were citrus, tomatoes and radishes...................... 27

9 Tomato shipments from Florida by trailer-on-flatcar,
December 13, 1982 March 27, 1983..................... 28

10 Percent of tomato shipments from Florida shipped by
trailer-on-flatcar, December 13, 1982 March 21,
1983.............. ......................... ........ 29

A.1 Percentage change in Federal road use tax, due to Sur-
fact Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, by gross
vehicle weight... ..*....... ..... ... ................. 34

The 1983 Independent Truckers Strike:
An Assessment of Its Effects on the Florida Produce Industry

Richard Beilock, Dorothy Comer and Valerie Butler


On January 6, 1982, President Reagan signed into law the Surface

Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. This legislation provided for a

major tax change, including a raise in the federal fuel tax from 4 cents

to 9 cents and increased road use taxes for heavy trucks (see Appendix

1). Many truckers vehemently opposed the increased taxes and as a

result, from January 31 to February 10, 1983, the Independent Truckers

Association (ITA) staged a strike. Part of the ITA's rationale was that

if they could disrupt the movement of products significantly, they would

have leverage with Congress to bring about changes in the tax structure

facing them.

In this report the short and long run effects of the strike on the

Florida produce industry will be assessed. This industry was selected

because of its vulnerability to such strikes. Florida is almost totally

dependent upon trucking to transport its produce, which is highly per-

ishable and must be shipped soon after harvest to prevent product deter-

ioration. In addition, the majority of the carriers hauling produce

from Florida are independent truck owner-operators (Beilock and

Fletcher). For these reasons the Florida produce industry would likely

be among the most severely affected sectors of the U.S. economy.

Richard Beilock and Dorothy Comer are Assistant Professors and
Valerie Butler is a student in the Food and Resource Economics Depart-

The organization of this report will be as follows. First, the

market conditions existing at the time of the strike will be briefly

described. This is followed by a description of the data employed for

the study. The results are, presented as follows:

1. shipper and broker preparation strategies,

2. proportion of truckers striking,

3. shipments during the strike,

4. time to arrange carriage and associated problems,

5. freight rate levels during and around the time of the

6. short term effects, and

7. long term effects.

The results are summarized and conclusions are drawn.

Scope and Limitations

This study focuses on information obtained from surveys of produce

shippers and brokers and compares their responses with USDA shipment and

truck rate data. The study is limited in scope as it does not analyze

all the economic ramifications. It does, however, provide information

on the extent of the strike, its impact on produce shipments and survi-

val strategies. In addition, this study shows the capability of alter-

native shipping modes to fill in if truck shipments are curtailed.


Market Conditions at Time of Strike

Florida's produce shipping season generally begins in October and

continues through June (Figure 1). At the time of the strike, produce

shipments were averaging about 70,000 tons (roughly 3,260 truckloads)

Shipment 3i
(million cwt)12










0 -i- -1 x --- I--I------
Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mtar. Apr. lay June

Figure 1. Produce Shipment from Florida by Truck and Rail (Note:
In January 1982, there was a severe frost which lowered
produce shipments below usual levels,)

per week and expectations were that shipment volumes would remain close

to this level until mid-March, when shipments would begin to rise to a

May-June peak.

Florida, in general, was in a surplus transportation supply situa-

tionI at the time of the strike for two reasons. Excessive rains,

especially in South Florida, had slowed harvesting operations.2 In

addition, after years of largely peding produce traffic to motor car-

riers, the Seaboard FysLEni Railroad (SSR) instituted on November 15,

1982, a new service called the Orangri Blossom Express. This new service

dedicates a trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC) unit train to transport produce

from Florida to the Northeast six days per week, with second or third

morning delivery to most points. Assuming a one and one-half to two

week turnaround time (i.e., the time from departure in Florida until the

TOFC trailer is back in F J.ida r eady for another ti t.p), SSR's fleet of

500 refrigerated trailers can run between 250 to 330 trailers per week.

Therefore, the Orange Blossom Express was capable of carrying eight to

ten' percent of the shipments leaving Florida the time of the strike. In

addition to the TOFC trailers offered by the Orange Blossom Express,

there were TOFC trailers available through nonrail firms.

Historically TOFC has been utilized primarily to transport radishes

and potatoes, and prior to the strike, the addition of the Orange Blos-

som Express had not changed this situation significantly. Weekly pro-

IFifty--four (61 p.'rcerin) of the brokers surveyed reported having a
surplus or slight sjrc.Ls truck supply situation before the strike.
None reported any shortage.
During the weeks tionledi rely pr-Ccediig the strike, heavy rains had
caused the cessation of harvesting operations in some areas around Lake
Okeechobee. Several truckers interviewed at that time reported waits of
up to two weeks to secure loads (Beilock and Fletcher), and in the USDA
Truck Ratc 1 Perp)r the truck availability situation was described as
lightt suirpl.Utj' o 'surplus.'

duce shipments for all TOFC ranged between 700 and 1,255 tons (about 35

to 57 truckloads) and, as in the past, the large majority of these

movements continued to be radishes and potatoes, indicating limited

success in attracting other commodities to this mode of transportation.

One reason for this may be because the service was new and doubts lin-

gered on the part of shippers and receivers about the railroad's ability

to deliver high quality service. In addition, the surplus supply of

trucks obviated the shift to an unfamiliar transport option.

In summary, then, at the time of the strike the Florida production-

shipping season was well underway, with shipments averaging over 3,000

truckloads were week. There was, however, considerable transport capac-
ity, both of trucking and TOFC services. Therefore, while the Florida

produce industry was vulnerable to a severe or prolonged strike, if the

strike were one in which only a small portion of the truckers partici-

pated, it would ha7e caused few problems.


In order to assess the effects of the 1983 truckers' strike, data

were collected from four principal sources:

1. a mail survey of produce shippers in Florida,

2. a phone survey of Florida agricultural truck brokers,

3. shipments and truck rate data published by the USDA and the

Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, and

4. informal discussions with personnel at Seaboard System


Shipper Mail Survey
In April, 1983 a questionnaire (see Appendix 2) was mailed to all

Florida produce shippers listed in the 1983 Blue Book. Of the 823

surveys that were mailed, 48 of them were not deliverable and 173 sur-

veys were returned for a response rate of 22 percent.

Shipment and Rate Data

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services main-

tains checkpoints (roadguard stations) to monitor shipments of agricul-

tural products into and out of the state. The Florida Crop and Live-

stock Reporting Service compiles these data into reports that show total

shipments from the state by day, by mode, and by commodity (Florida Crop

and Livestock Reporting Service, 1982 and 1983).

The USDA Agriclltuirj-1 Marketing Service (AMS) collects weekly

produce truck rate and availability information (USDA, 1980-1983). Rate

estimates represent an average of those reported by brokers, carriers

and shippers contacted by the AMS. This service was first instituted to

monitor conditions during the 1979 strike.


Si.pper and Brrikec 3'.'ike Pre paration Strateg_ e

Shippers and brokers were questioned about measures taken to pre-

pare for the strike. Sfxi:-*-i.xice shippers (36 percent) reported taking

action to prerpre, while 105 h:;ppers (61 percent) made no preparation.

Only 21 (23 percent) if the brokers reported taking any prestrike act-

ion. The large number taklcii no action is thought to be due to one or

more and the following reasons:

1. perceived inability to Prepare,

2. discounting of the chances for, or severity of, the impend-

ing strike, and

3. confidence that the firm would be able to adjust after the

onset of a strike.

For shipers, a strong relationship was found between preparing for the

strike and increased rates during the strike.3 This may suggest that

shippers taking (not taking) action had correctly judged that they would

(would not) be affected.

Of those shippers taking action, 26, or 41 percent, reported that

they reduced their picking operations. However, as has been previously

stated, severe weather conditions also contributed to reduced harvesting

prior to the strike, thus, it is not clear to what extent the reported

reductions were due to the strike. Eighteen shippers (29 percent)

stated that they attempted to sell an increased amount prior to the

strike. The importance of this strategy is supported by the fact that

shipments rose by about 10 percent during the week before the strike

(9,000 tons two weeks before the strike versus 9,875 tons the week

before the strike). Both reduced picking and increased prestrike ship-

ments would serve to reduce warehouse inventories. This has the advant-

age of providing additional space to refrigerate produce which may need

to be harvested but which may not be able to be shipped. The remaining

30 percent of shippers taking actions did not specify the measures


Nineteen (23 percent) of the brokers surveyed reported taking

special steps to prepare for the strike. Seven made special efforts to

The null hypothesis of no relationship between preparatory action
and observing increased rates could be rejected at the .01 percent level
(Chi-square 23.6 with 3 degrees of freedom).

contact truckers to encourage them to stay on the job. Five prearranged

loads and drivers, often with a view toward taking care of their regular

customers first. Three brokers organized caravans or arranged for

daylight runs and safe fuel stops. Two attempted to shift more of the

burden to in-house trucks, and one ceased guaranteeing times of deli-

very. Finally, one broker attempted to run more loads prior to the

strike, and then shut down.

Overview of the Strike

Proportion of Truckers Striking

While no precise figures exist to indicate the number or proportion

of truckers striking, an indication of strike behavior may be determined

from the shipper and broker surveys. Both groups were asked to estimate

the proportion of carriers with whom they deal that were out on strike

during the first four days and the last week of the strike. In addi-

tion, brokers were asked to differentiate between carriers holding ICC

authority (regulated) and those which do not (independent).

About half the shippers and 83 percent of the brokers reported that

any of the carriers whom they commonly employ struck (Tables 1 and 2).

As might be expected, brokers reported a significantly lower percentage

of regulated truckers out on strike than independent truckers. An

average of 5.4 percent of regulated truckers struck whereas 38.7 percent

of the independents went on strike (Table 2 and Figure 2). After three

to four days, an average of 27.2 percent of the independent carriers

were still on strike compared to 4.0 percent of the regulated carriers

(significantly more at the 5 percent level).

Table 1. Incidence of truckers on strike as perceived by
produce shippers

Question Shippers

Did any of the truckers
you commonly use strike? #

Yes 84 (50)
No 82 (50)
No response 7

If some struck, how many
returned after first four

No answer (or no answer
above) 91
Most returned 37 (45)
Half returned 14 (17)
Few returned 20 (24)
None returned 11 (13)

There were differences between the percent of truckers returning

after the first four days between the shippers and brokers. Sixty-two

percent of the shippers reported that half or more of the truckers

returned after the. first four days whereas 62 percent of brokers

indicated less than 26 percent of independent striking truckers

returned. Employing the percentage striking and the percentage returning

estimates from the broker survey, it is estimated that 14.5 percent of

the independent carriers and 2.8 percent of the regulated carriers

struck for the entire eleven days.

Strike 90





40 ,





Figure 2:




Four' days


Percent of carriers striking in Florida at selected
points in time during the strike.

--~I------- ------

Table 2. Incidence of truckers on strike as perceived by brokers
L I I II I I I i


What percentage of truckers
initially struck:


Average pet.lent on strike

Of those striking, what percentage
returned after first four days?


Of those striking, what percentage
stayed out the whole 11 days?










( 3)

( 2)
( 3)

Shipment Amounts During the Strikes

Total shipments

Ironically, the total amount of shipments during the strike was

comparable to the periods immediately preceding and after (Figure 3).

In fact, total shipments during the three-week period encompassing the

strike and adjustment period (January 24 February 14) exceeded that of

any three-week period after the strike until mid-May. This rise in

shipments during the strike may have been caused, in part, by receivers

stocking heavily in an attempt to minimize the effect of a prolonged or










( 1)






(1,000 tons)

12/13 12/212 12/27 1/3 I/)1 1/17 1/24 1/31 2/7 ./11 21/1 2 I/ 3/7 3/14 3/21
leek (begi'in! ing datul'l

Figure 3.

Total fresh fruit and vegetable shipments from Florida, December
31, 1982-March 27, 1983 (excluding exports overseas).

increasingly effective strike. Several shippers noted that their

customers bought unusually large quantities in an effort to insulate

themselves against the strike. Given the brevity of the strike, many of

these purchases, no doubt, proved to be unnecessary.

Shipments by TOFC

Possibly the most important development during the strike was the

increased usage of TOFC. Two weeks prior to the strike, TOFC shipments

averaged about 100 tons per day, or between one to one and one-half

percent of total shipments (Figures 4 and 5). Although this represents

an increase of 80 percent over shipments by TOFC in 1982, these amounts

were still very small,considering the substantial investment SSR had

made in the Orange Blossom Express. Equally important was the fact that

TOFC had not yet captured a significant share of the traffic of any

commodity other than radishes or potatoes. While 41 percent of the

radishes were being shipped by TOFC, less than one-half of one percent

of any other commodity were using the railroad for shipping. Moreover,

in three of the six weeks prior to the strike, the only commodity

transported by TOFC was radishes (Figure 6).

Shortly before, the strike, SSR instituted a major promotional

campaign whereby a contract for 10 trailers would get one free. This,

coupled with efforts of shippers to position themselves for the strike,

led to a fourfold increase in TOFC shipments in the week prior to the

strike (Figure 4), and the proportion of total TOFC shipments that were

radishes plummeted from 100 percent to 35 percent (Figure 6). During

the strike, TOFC shipinenr s reached a rate of 850 tons per day, or nearly

10 percent of total shipments, and radish shipments dropped to 8 percent

of total TOFC movements. To accomplish this high rate of service, the

Strike-Adjustment -
rStrike I
(1,000 tons)





r I I I

12/13 12/20 12/27 1/3 l/It 1/17 t/24. 1/3/ 2/7 /1 I 2/21 2//-i i/7 i/14 3/21
jeAk (beghtiiingl dallc)
Figure 4.. Trailer-on-flatcar total fresh fruit and vegetable shipments
from Florida, December 13, 1982 March 27, 1983.

Strike-adj utmsent


12/13 12/20 12/27 1/3 1/10 1/17 1/24 1/31 1/7 2/1-I 2/21 2/2S 3/7 3/14 3/21
Week beginningg diiiate)

Percent of total fresh fruit and vegetables shipments from Florida
shipped by trailer-on-flatcar, December 13, 1983 March 27, 1983
(excluding exports overseas).


Figure 5.

Percent Period



70 Citrus

60_- Radishes / /


SI Tomatoes


12/13 12/2012/17 1/3 1/10 1/17 1/24 1/31 2/7 2/14 2/21 2/28 3/7 3/14 3/21
Week (beginning date)

Figure 6. Percent of shipments by trailer-on-flatcar that were citrus,
radishes_ and tomatoes

Orange Blossom Express ran seven days per week, and trailers were

sometimes rushed south without waiting for a return load to Florida.

Time to arrange carriage

Prior to the strike, brokers averaged about five hours to arrange

for a truck to carry a load. Seventy percent could arrange carriage to

any area with a phone call (Table 3). Only about 10 percent reported

taking longer than a day. During the strike the average time had

increased to about 16 hours to arrange a load to the Northeast or

Midwest and 12 hours to the Southeast (Table 4). Depending upon the

destination only, only 38-42 percent could arrange carriage with one

phone call and 23-29 percent required more than a day. Even so, 57

percent and 52 percent reported no difference in time to arrange a load

to the Southeast and Northeast, respectively. Slightly fewer 49 percent

reported no difference for a load going to the Midwest.

Table 3. Length of time for brokers to arrange carriage

Before Strike During Strike
Destination Destination

Time Northeast Northwest Southeast Northeast Northwest Southeast

# %* # % # % # % # % # %

Call 55 (71) 50 (70) 48 (72) 28 (42) 24 (38) 25 (45)
Half day 14 (18) 13 (18) 12 (18) 21 (31) 21 (33) 18 (32)
More than day 8 (10) 8 (11) 7 (10) 18 (27) 18 (29) 13 (23)

Table 4. Difference in time to arrange carriage by destination, as
compared to pre-strike period

Difference Northeast Northwest Southwest

# % # % # %

Less 3 (4) 3 (5) 3 (5)
No change 35 (52) 31 (49) 32 (57)
Half day 13 (19) 14 (22) 10 (18)
More than day longer 16 (24) 15 (24) 11 (20)

As might be expected, those brokers reporting smaller percentages

of truckers striking tended to report smaller differences between the

time to arrange carriage before and during the strike. Of those seeing

no difference in the time to arrange loads, 63 percent reported 25
percent or less of the truckers initially striking. By contrast, only

25 percent of those reporting more than one day longer to arrange loads

also reported 25 percent or less of the truckers striking.

Shippers were asked to report the longest delay in arranging car-

riage during the strike by region (Table 4). The responses averaged 1.3

days to the Northeast, 1.0 days to the Midwest, and 0.35 days to the

Southeast. The differences in maximum delay between the Southeast, on

the one hand, and the Northeast and Midwest, on the other hand, were

significant at the one percent level. This pattern was consistent with

that noted by the brokers.

Lost orders

Thirty-one percent (50) of the shippers and 28 percent (23) of the

brokers reported losing orders due to transportation difficulties (Table

5). Forty-two percent of the shippers and 60 percent of the brokers

reported that the orders they lost had been destined to the Northeast.

Table 5. Shippers and brokers reporting having lost orders during the

Brokers Shippers

# % #
Did you lose orders?
Yes 23 (28) 50 (31)
No 58 (72) 110 (69)
if so, to which region: Regiona Regiona
# % # %
East 7 (70) 22 (48) 6 (35)
South -- 4 ( 9) 2 (11)
West 1 9 (20) 6 (35)
Everywhere 2 5 (11) 1 ( 8)
Other -- 6 (13) 2 (11)

aRegion 1 was the region for which shippers reported losing the most
orders; Region 2 was second.
By contrast, only 12 percent of the lost shipper orders and none of the
lost broker orders had a Southern destination.

Carrier reluctance to serve specific areas

As is indicated in the preceding sections, during the strike the

Northeast was an area for which there was reluctance to serve (Table

6). Of the 29 brokers identifying regions to which carriage was parti-

cularly difficult to arrange, 80 percent (23) indicated the Northeast,

while only one broker (3 percent) saw and South as being a problem area.

One hundred and five shippers (79) percent stated that carriers

were reluctant to serve particular regions. Of these, 79 or 75 percent

indicated that truckers were adverse to going into the Northeast. Only

6 shippers (less than 6 percent) reported reluctance by Carriers with

respect to destinations in the South.

Table 6. Difficulty in arranging loads by region

Question Brokers Shippers

Were there areas to which # % # X
truckers were reluctant
to go?

Yes 29 (36) 105 (79)
No 52 (64) 59 (21)

If so, where?

South 1 (3) 6 (6)
New Jersey 20 (69) 40 (38)
Northeast 3 (10) 39 (37)
East 1 ( 3) 15 (14)
West 4 (14) 4 (4)
Canada 1 ( 1)


During the strike it is evident that rates rose, for at least some

commodities and destinations. Brokers were questioned with regard to

per box rates for citrus, tomatoes and potatoes or cabbage before the

strike, during the first four days of the strike, and during the final

week of the strike. The results are presented in Table 7 and Figure

7. Except for tomatoes going to Chicago, the average rates reported by

brokers rose during the four four days of the strike. For citrus going

to New York and Chicago, as well as for potatoes going to Atlanta, this

increase was significant at the 5 percent level. Except for potatoes

going to New York, rates had declined somewhat by the end of the strike.

These declines are thought to be due to an easing of the truck supply

situation as truckers returned to the job.

Seventy-two (42 percent) of the shippers reported that rates in-

creased during the strike. The mean percent of increase by destination

2.20 -




1. 30-



1. 00-4-


Citrus Tomato Potato

Time period and commodity

Figure 7. Average rates to ship citrus, tomatoes and potatoes
to Atlanta (---), Chicago (-,-) and New York (-t+).

B = WVeek before strike M = middle of strikeI E = ,rn,. of strike2

first four days of strike
"last week df. strike

Table 7. Rates per box or crate reported by brokers for selected com-
modities before and during the strike by designation

Destination and Time Under $1.26 $1.26-$1.50 Over $1.50

New York
First 4 days
End of strike
First 4 days
End of strike
First 4 days
End of strike

New York
First 4 days
End of strike
First 4 days
End of strike
First 4 days
End of strike







# %
18 (

21 (
19 (



4 (21)
5 (36)
4 (29)


2 (11)
6 (35)
5 (31)

4 (20)
5 (29)
4 (25)

1 (10)
0 (0)
0 (0)

provides further evidence of the difficulties involved in

Northeast and, to a lesser extent, into the Midwest.

increase in rates reported by shippers was 16.1, 15.6,


The mean

and 11.0

into the


for the

Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast, respectively. The differences between

percentage increases in rates between the Southeast, on the one hand, and

the Northeast and Midwest, on the other hand, were significant at the 5 and

10 percent levels, respectively.

# %7
1 ( 3)
5 (14)
5 (14)

0 ( 0)
4 (13)
3 (9)

0 (0)
1 ( 7)
1 ( 7)

( 5)



- --- -----" II -I I ---- ------~

Comment on violence and the media

The high proportion of lost orders to the Northeast, difficulties in

arranging freight to that area, large rate increases for loads to the

Northeast, and driver reluctance to haul into that region are thought to be

due, in large part, to the well publicized acts of violence which occurred

there (especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania). Indeed, one of the more un-

pleasant lessons of the strike is that violence, particularly well publi-

cized violence, increases the effectiveness of a transportation strike.

Several shippers commented that the media's 'hyping' of the violence story

both encouraged more violence and unduly dissuaded and worried those car-

riers wishing to stay in operation.

Short term effects

As has been described in the previous section, the truck strike did

little to prevent produce from reaching its market, somewhat elevated truck

rates, lengthened the time necessary to arrange carriage and increased the

share and absolute amounts of produce shipped via TOFC. All but the last

effect appears to have been temporary.

After the strike, truck supplies again outstripped demand in that

truckers typically had to wait to secure loads and could not be selective

regarding destination.4 The return to an excess capacity situation is

reflected in the weekly average rates reported by the USDA. From Figure 7

it is evident that the strike percipitated a transitory increase in rate

4During the strike the truck adequacy scale employed by the USDA
Agricultural Markerting Service in USDA Fruit and Vegertable Truck Rate
Report indicated that there were 'slight shortages' to some regions.
The adequacy code quickly reverted to 'adequate' or 'slight surplus' for
all regions after the strike.

levels ranging from 12 prei-cent for citrus to 24 percent from tomatoes5. By

early March, however, rates fell back to prestrike levels.

The post-strike rate levels are extremely low. Truck rates have not

risen in nominal terms and have fallen in real terms since 1980 (Table

6). Many, no doubt, participated in the strike as a general protest

against a system which, for them, has gone sour. Moreover, due to the low

rates, the opportunity costs of striking were not high. However, as rates

rose during the strike, the losses from not running also rose. This forced

many financially weak carriers back to work, and precipitated the collapse

of the strike (as evidenced by our estimates that less than half of those

who struck initially were still off the job at the end of the strike).

Lo-i Term Effects


The stated purpose of the truck strike was to bring about a change in

the tax laws. On February 10, 1983, ITA called off the strike in return

for a promise that Congress would review the relevant taxes. This review

is not expected for several months, but it appears doubtful, to these

authors, if any substantial changes will be made. The taxes in question

are based on the premise that users of a service should pay for that

service, a concept deeply rooted in the U.S. political-economic philosophy.

Many truckers were hurt financially by the strike. First, they lost

revenues from loads Foregone by striking. Several brokers indicated that

some owner-operators were forced out of business due to the strike.

5The larger pei-entage increases for tomato rates were not
unexpected. Being high valued and very perishable, the losses from
delay in shipping tomatoes can be great. Therefore tomato shippers are
more willing than shippers of less perishable, lower valued commodities
to offer premiums for expedited Eervice.

Second, and possibly more damaging, several shippers and brokers remarked

that the image of the truckers had been hurt, both in terms of the politi-

cal power they are perceived to wield and in terms of reliability of ser-

vice. The latter may convince some shippers and receivers that there is a

need to diversity shipments into private motor carriage and rail (TOFC).

The railroad

As has been previously described, during the strike produce shipments

increased dramatically and the variety of commodities carried greatly ex-

panded. What is most significant, however, is that after the strike TOFC

shipments did not slide back to prestrike levels. To see this, three

periods will be compared, the six weeks prior to the week before the strike

(the prestrike period), the three weeks encompassing the strike (the strike

and adjustment period, and the following six weeks (the poststrike period).

During the poststrike period, average weekly produce shipments by TOFC

rose to 2,411 tons (four percent of shipments) from the 700 ton average per

week of the prestrike period (one percent of shipments) (Figures 4 and

5). Growth in TOFC shipments would be expected if total shipments were

growing: however, during the three periods, total produce shipments were

stable or slightly declining (Figure 2). Total citrus shipments, which

showed the largest increase in TOFC shipments, also decreased over this

period. Moreover, regardless of the growth pattern of total shipments, the

increase in the percentage of total shipments carried by TOFC indicates

that shippers and receivers were switching from motor carriers to TOFC.

The mix and variety of commodities carried by TOFC increased markedly

after the strike relative to before. As can be seen in Figure 6, before

the strike, radish shipments dominated TOFC movements however, after the

strike radish shipments did accounted for less than a third of TOFC move-

ments. Citrus fruits have become the dominant commodity shipped and TOFC

shipments of tomatoes have grown to rival those for radishes. Moreover,

the mean percentage of TOFC shipments accounted for by the three most impor-

tant commotities dropped from 97.8 in the six weeks prior to the strike-

adjustment period to 86.4 in the six weeks following this period, indicat-

ing the broadening base of commodities being shipped via this mode (Figure


The continued use of TOFC after the strike for shipping high valued,

damage prone commodities, such as tomatoes (Figures 9 and 10), underscores

the fact that shippers have been pleased with the quality of service offer-

ed. The traditional dominance of radishes and potatoes in TOFC shipments

from Florida was, in part, because of the ability of those commodities to

withstand longer-than-truck transit times, rougher handling, and lack of

monitoring, which were commonly associated with TOFC services. However,

with the Orange Blossom Express, shippers are offered a level of service

comparable to trucking in most respects.6


In this report some of the effects of the Jamuary 31 February 10,

1983 independent truckers' strike on the Florida produce industry have been

assessed. As this industry produces perishable goods and is almost totally

dependent upon trucking to transport its products, it was particularly

vulnerable to a strike. This vulnerability was further enhanced by the

fact that an estimated 56 percent of the truckers serving the industry are

independent (Beilock and Fletcher). At the time of the strike, produce

shipments were steady at about 3,200 truckloads per week.

6Forty-seven shippers reported using the Orange Blossom Express
during the strike. Of these, 8 (17 percent) rated the performance as
better than trucking, 33 (70 percent) the same as trucking, and 6 (13
percent worse than trucking.

Percent I







S I Week

1..1 1 .. .--

Figure 8. Percent of total trailer-on-flatcar shipments that
were citrus, tomatoes and radishes

Strike-adijstlment period
I -

Weight 1.2.
(1,000 tons)


12/13 12/20 12/27 1/3 1/ll

1/17 1/lt4 1/:1 2/7

2/14 2/-21 2/_ .7/7

Welkl, (ltwr|illlilln;in, d itl
Figure 9. Tomato shipments from Florida by trailer-on-flatcar, December
13, 1982 March 27, 1983.

a lpu






W3/14 3/21



3/14 3/21

r m --I

12/13 12/20 12/27 1/3 1/10 1/17 1/24 1/31 2/7 2/14 2/21 2/28 3/7 3/14 3/21
Week (beginning date)
Figure 10. Percent of tomato shipments from Florida shipped by trai lCr-on- fltatciar, Decelber
13, 1982 March 21, 1983


The results of the study suggest that the strike had the following

short run effects:

1. Demand initially increased as receivers attempted to stockpile


2. Initially 39 percent of the independent and 5 percent of the regu-

lated carriers shut down. By the end of the first four days of

the strike 27 percent of the independents and 4 percent of the

regulated carriers were still on strike. By the end of the strike

only 15 percent of the independents and 3 percent of the regulated

carriers were still out.

3. There was a 12 to 24 percent increase in freight rates (depending

upon the commodity and the destination) during the early part of

the strike, which tapered off as carriers returned to the job.

4. There was some increase in the difficulty of arranging carriage

and some orders could not be filled. These problems were most

severe for loads going to the Northeast.

5. Many shippers switched to TOFC, taking advantage of the newly

instituted Orange Blossom Express to the Northeast. Overall,

shippers rated the TOFC service as comparable to trucking.

For the most part, shippers were able to deliver their loads to market.

Total shipments during the three-week period encompassing the strike actu-

ally exceeded that for the three week periods immediately before or after.

Shippers, receivers, and brokers coped with the strike by the use of

four main strategies: reduced picking, increased shipments prior to the

strike, prior scheduling with encouragement and safety arrangements (con-

voys, safe fuel stops, daylight schedules) for carriers, and use of TOFC.

Many, however, found that the strike was so mild enough that they could

operate essentially on a business-as-usual basis. This became increasingly

true as carriers returned to the job.

The longer run effects of the strike are:

1. A shift to TOFC by many shippers. The strike accelerated movement

to this mode by forcing shippers to try it before they otherwise

would have.

2. Questionable political gains for truckers in the form of a pro-

mise by Congress to review tax measures. This dubious gain is

more than offset by the overall impression that the independents

demonstrated only modest economic power due to an inability to act

in a unified manner.

Prior to the strike about one percent of produce shipments were by TOFC and

the largest share was radish shipments. After the strike four percent of

shipments were by TOFC, and the variety of commodities shipped had expanded



The truck strike did not seriously disrupt the Florida produce indus-

try. To the extent that shippers were driven to utilize TOFC service, the

railroads were helped. It appears that some of the gains made by TOFC

during the strike have persisted. The ability to transfer some of the

burden to TOFC has weakened trucking's market power over the produce indus-

try. The value of having such alternatives has not been lost of the ship-

pers and receivers.



Surface Transportation Assistance Act

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, coupled with amend-

ments to an earlier U.S. Department of Transportation appropriations bill,

provide for three major changes affecting the motor carrier industry:

1. increased expenditures for construction and repair of federally

funded roadways,

2. relaxed truck weight and length restrictions on all U.S. Inter-

states and some other roads, and

3. tax changes, including a raise in the federal fuel tax from 4

cents to 9 cents and increased road use taxes for heavy trucks.7

In the truckers' view, by far the most onerous tax is the road use tax.

For full sized tractor-trailers (the type of vehicle typically used for

interstate produce hauls) this tax will increase from 240 dollars annually

to 1,600 dollars in 1984, or in 1985 if the firm owner owns five or fewer

vehicles. While the road use tax will escalate for most smaller sized

trucks, heavier trucks will bear the brunt of the tax (see Fig. A.1). The

reason for this tax structure is to force heavier vehicles to pay for the

greater amounts of damage they are purposed to do to roadways and bridges.

To the owners of these vehicles, however, the tax was seen as unfair dis-

crimination, and it'comes at a time when many truckers are struggling to

stay in business.

7For more detailed explanation of these measures see Anderson
(1983) or Beilock (1983).

Percent 700







26 30 35 40 45 SO 55 60 65 70 75 80

Gross Vehicle Weight (1,000 Ibs.)

Figure A.I. Percentage Change in Federal Road Use Tax, Due to
Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, by
Gross Vehicle Weight.

Appendix 2


1983 Truck Striker
Broker Survey

1. Prior to the strike which term would you say best described the truck
supply situation?

__ Surplus Slight surplus Adequate Slight Shortage

2. Prior to the strike, how long did it take you to arrange a truck for a
load to the
Northeast ?
Midwest ?

Southeast ?

And how long during the strike

Northest ?
Midwest ?
Southeast ?

3. What actions, if any, did your firm take to prepare for the strike?

4. About what proportion of the independent truckers you serve shut down
during the strike? %
Of those, what proportion came back after the first 3-4 days? _%
and what proportion of those striking stayed out for all '11 days? %

How about the regulated, fleet operations? What proportion shut down
initially? %
Of those, what proportion came back after 3-4 days ? %
and what proportion stayed out for all 11 days? %
5. Were there any areas of the country to which you had particular problems
arranging carriage? __ Ye. .No

If yes, where? ____-.______

6. What were typical rates being charged for citrus, tomatoes, and potatoes
or cabbage just prior to the strike for the following destinations?

Destination or to Strike
DestnationCitrus Tomatoes Potatoes or Cabbage

New York



1st 4 days of strike (Monday-Thursday)

New York



Last week of strike

New York



7. Were you unable to arrange carriage for any loads

Yes No

If yes, how many loads and to where?

8. By about what percentage did the strike lower the

During the 1st 4 days of the strike? During

during the strike?

number of loads you

the last week of the strike?

% __%

9. Did you or any of your customers use the Orange Blossom Express?

Yes No

If yes, how was the service?

I_~_ __~

c" ---~I-

~" --~-~

" c


10. Did the strike accomplish anything? Yes

If yes, what?

Thank you. Would you like a copy of the final report ?


Yes No

Survey of the Effects of the January/February 1983
Truck Strike
1. What commodities were you shipping at the time of the truck strike?

2. What actions, if any, did you take to prepare for the strike?

no action

shipped unusually large quantities before the strike

reduced picking or purchases just prior to the strike to avoid
being stuck with large-inventories

other please explain:

3. How do you arrange for carriage?
Normally During the strike

brokers % % of time

direct contact with truckers % % of time

receivers trucks % _% of time

your own trucks % % of time'

rail (piggyback) % % of time

other % %_ of .time
100% 100%

4. How long, on average, did it take you to arrange for a truck (from the
time you-started looking):
in the weeks prior to the strike? during the strike?

5. Did any of the truckers you usually use strike?
Yes No


If yes, about what percent of them? %

Did any return after a few days?

Yes, most

Yes, about half

Yes, a few


6. Did freight rates paid during the strike go up? Yes No

If yes, by about how much did the rates go up?

% to the Northeast

% to the Midwest

% to the Southeast

7.. What produce loses, if any, did you incur due to the strike?

Commodity Value of loss
Total loss Reduced value from overly
__________________mature produce

8. What was the longest delay you experienced in shipments

days to the Northeast

days to the Midwest

days to the Southwest
Were there any orders you completely lost due to lack of transport?

Yes No

If yes, what commodity(ies) and to what areas) of the country?



9. How much did you actually ship during the following periods and would
you have shipped if there had been no strike?

Number of Truckloads

Week prior to strike
January 24-
January 30

January 31-
February 0Q

Week following strike
February li-
February 17

Actually shipped /

Would have
shipped without
strike or threat
of a strike

10. During the strike, were there any areas of the country which truckers were
particularly reluctant to serve? 'Yes No

If yes, where and why?

11. Did you consider using the new piggyback service, the Orange Blossom

Yes, used it Yes, considered it No, not considered

If used, was the service as good or better than for trucking?

Better than trucking About the same Worse than trucking

If different from trucking, in what way(s)?

_I I~ I___~_

If not used, why not?

Not necessary as trucks still available
Too costly
Poor service
Receivers won't accept rail deliveries
Other, please explain

12. What should the state of Florida do to prepare for strikes?

13. Additional comments?

Thank you for your time and effort. If you want a copy of the final report,
please include your name and address on a separate piece of paper.


1. Beilock, R., and G. Fletcher. Report to the Florida Agricultural
Transportation Task Force of the Preliminry Findings of the Florida
Department of Consumr Services--Food and Resource Economics Department
Study of Exempt Perishable Goods Haulers, Food and Resource Economics
Staff Paper #237, University of Florida 1983.

2. Federal-State Market News Servie, Florida Shipment Report: Fresh
Fruits and Vegetables, Federal-State Market News Service (1982-1983)
issues (weekly)

3. Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, Citrus Summary: 1982,
Orlando, 1983.

4. Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, Vegetable Summary: 1982,
Orlando, 1983b.

5. Produce Reporter Company, The Blue Book. Weston, Illinois, 1982.

6. USDA, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables and Ornamental Crops: Weekly
Summary--Shipments and Unloads, Agricultural Marketing Service (1982-
1983), (weekly).

7. USDA, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Truck Rate Report, Agricultural
Marketing Service, (1982-1983), (weekly).

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs