TRUCK WARS OF ’74 - STORIES
It was not only OOIDA members who were out trying to force a complete shutdown. At the
Union 76 truck stop in Bartonsville, the wife of the vice president of the association in
Northeast Pennsylvania, Mrs. Daniel Rhobak, turned out with better than a score of other
women and children from Scranton to picket and shut down the diesel pumps.
Mrs. Rhobak said the women were primarily interested in stopping the fighting between the
men. She said: “Human life cannot be replaced.” All the independent truckers wanted, she
said, was to get all truckers on the road to honor the shutdown. They picketed the truck
stop because they felt if it stayed open, it was only encouraging non-striking drivers to run
by providing them with fuel.
Women were spotted in the early stages of the shutdown on picket duty throughout the
state. They were sometimes militant in patrolling fuel stops, truck terminals and other
facilities where the independents were striking.
OOIDA was joined in the shutdown by another major truckers organization, the Fraternal
Association of Steel Haulers. It was FASH, back in 1970, which first developed the use of
muscle on the highways in pressing their plans to break away from the Teamsters Union
and get a separate contract with steel firms. They ran a seven-week long strike during
which they refused to haul steel and steel products from the mills.
That shutdown was also marked by violence, tire slashings, rock throwing and shootings. It
brought the state police out in force to preserve order.
So this time when OOIDA decided it had enough of price gouging on diesel fuel they
were ready. They had many of their drivers in Pennsylvania when the independents
decided to call the strike.
The use by the owner-operators of Citizen Band radios helped coordinate the shutdown. In
order to hide their identity, they adopted names of their own. One of these was “Agitator,
who operated largely in Eastern Pennsylvania.
He sounded the keynote to the drivers when he proclaimed: “After the first shutdown all
they gave us was promises. We can’t eat promises. The country is in bad shape. There’s
violence everywhere and it’s bad. So we’re here as truck drivers to prove once and for all
our demands must be met.