Truckers in northern Maine have been protesting against Irving Forest Products, saying that rates have changed little over the past 15 years despite increases in costs.
The protest began Monday when 21 independent truckers parked their trucks in Fort Kent, ME. By Wednesday, about 50 truckers were participating in the protest.
The truckers presented their case through a spokesman. They said they wanted to stay anonymous, fearing retribution from the company. They say they can no longer make a living on the rates Irving Forest Products is paying. The spokesman said that truckers are hauling well over legal weight limits because that's the only way they can make a living.
Jim Freeman, the truckers' spokesman, told the Bangor Daily News that the truckers would like to have a published rate, in which they would all get paid the same for the same run. Currently, trucking rates vary because truckers are paid on a per-ton, per-mile rate, making the rate different for each trucker from each location. The rate also depends on the mill to which they haul logs.
Irving Forest Products initially said it wanted to talk to the truckers individually. A company spokesperson noted that it had been paying the truckers a fuel surcharge the last few weeks. But by Tuesday morning, the company was negotiating with the truckers. The talks broke down Wednesday night. The truckers' spokesman said some headway was being made, but truckers rejected Irving's offer.