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Could a Potential Trucker Strike Derail Holiday?: The Week Ahead

What’s un-American? Shutting down the economy.

Over a week after the U.S. presidential election and incumbent President Donald Trump has yet to concede, mounting a flurry of legal challenges instead. On top of that, daily confirmed coronavirus infections continue to set records and portend a worsening outbreak, but now America could be facing a trucker strike just as the holidays are heating up.

Election

Trump’s ballot challenges have failed in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Presumptive President-elect Democrat Joe Biden won’t officially bear that designation until members of the Electoral College cast their votes on Dec. 14. On Friday, Biden was declared the winner in Georgia, while Trump won in North Carolina. Given Biden’s commanding lead in Electoral votes, neither state result can seriously impact overall results. Biden needed 270 Electoral votes to win. He has 290 to Trump’s 217.

Trump has long said that he wouldn’t go quietly in a loss, boasting that his voting base would continue to fight against Biden and his running mate, Senator and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Apparently the post-election fighting and positioning has just begun.

Talk of a trucker strike

Truck drivers could organize a strike at the end of the month, but it isn’t immediately clear how much of the country would be impacted. The idea seemed to have started as a grassroots movement by Jeremy  Rewoldt that has become mobilized to what could be a sizable effort. Twitter conversation around the #stopthetires2020 hashtag indicates plans for a strike on Nov. 26-29. One post indicated that the movement began in connection to “our concern in reference to the negative affects (sic), that a green new deal or any ban on fracking would have….,” ending the post “God Bless America.”

Though the post seems to reference the Green New Deal set forth by Biden, his proposal doesn’t ban all fracking, just hydraulic fracking on federal lands.

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A post by Cara Carroll on the feed, who is listed at account administrator, said: “This is a movement to protect 19 million jobs. This is a movement to protect our country. Let’s make this extremely clear, while we are a huge group of republicans and conservatives, our focus in this movement is our blue-collar workers of America. We are extremely grateful for what Donald Trump has done for the American people. With this being said, of course, we are wanting him to remain in office, but we know change is bound to happen. We are embracing the change but have a voice that needs to be heard by the people and for the people. No matter who is in office….”

Retail and the supply chain

So what does this mean for retail and the holiday?

The Teamsters union has national agreements with a number of freight companies that work with public and private firms. While it is about 1.4 million-member strong, the union also represents a number of other professions. While the package division works with firms such as UPS, it’s the freight division that represents the interests of truckers across North America.

Local member unions can authorize strikes, often as a protest for unfair working conditions or as a leverage to get employers to the bargaining table. There’s no indication at the moment that the proposed plan for the end of November is union-sanctioned. That means that those who elects to participate, even though truckers are required to make the delivery, could run the risk of losing their jobs. In fact, a pre-run had been scheduled for Veteran’s Day, but it didn’t appear that many rigs were pulled off the roads.

Even if enough participants staged roadblocks in certain locations, that would be a localized effort and wouldn’t impact the overall economy. And the targeted strike dates might have minimal impact on the retail supply chain anyway. Thanksgiving Day is part of the four-day strike, when many truckers might already be scheduled to be home for the holiday.

Retailers already in stock whatever they need for the Black Friday specials in stores and online. Executives at discounters such as Walmart and Target have said on company conference calls that they’ve stocked up on necessary items to ensure that they can keep flowing the merchandise that customers want and need without major shortages or disruptions.