The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. and the Teamsters Union are urging President Clinton to view the current fuel crisis as an emergency or disaster situation when it comes to owner-operators.

In a letter last week to President Clinton, OOIDA President Jim Johnston, writes, "perhaps the fuel situation the nation is experiencing doesn't qualify as a national emergency of the scope currently required to tap into the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We believe it should. The OPEC nations are unconcerned about the economic harm their actions may inflict on the U.S. economy or any of its citizens. Is this not an economic assault on U.S. interests?"
Johnston also asks the government to look into the possibility of price gouging and "willful supply manipulations."
The Teamsters union wants President Clinton to make owner-operators eligible for federal disaster relief. George Cashman, the union's national port director, compared increases in owner-operator fuel costs to the losses of farmers whose crops are destroyed by drought or floods.
The union also is warning that if ship lines don't provide more money for trucking companies that hire port drivers, it will lobby to end subsidies to the U.S. operating units of foreign-owned shipping lines.