CHARLESTON, S.C.: Independent truckers strike ports

Carl Hopkins, 45, married father of three, has been on the road before sun-up for decades hauling cargo to and from the port of Charleston. For a 14-hour day, Hopkins, an independent trucker, now brings home $150. He spends $230 on fuel. Hopkins planned to be on the picket line beginning June 28 through July 4 protesting the high cost of fuel.

From Charleston to Savannah to Houston to New Orleans to Baltimore to Los Angeles to Hampton Roads, independent truck drivers who form the vast delivery network for the global economy are parking their rigs and picking up picket signs demanding higher wages, lower fuel costs and improved working conditions. Drivers are organizing their movement in Spanish and English.

Although independent truckers are not members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the union has said it will honor the independents’ picket lines. The call to strike, says IBT President James P. Hoffa, “shows the frustration of individual truckers who have been abused by their employers.”

Susanne Hall, who averages eight to 10 trips a day for the Savannah, Ga., port, is on the line. “I’ve been doing this for five years and I’m making the same $35 a move,” she said. “And you can believe I’m paying a lot more in fuel these days. Something’s gotta change.”

SAVANNAH, Ga.: City Council condemns Patriot Act

This genteel Southern city, site of recent protests against the Bush-led G-8 Summit, passed a resolution June 24 criticizing the USA Patriot Act and affirming the democratic rights of its residents. In the same week, Raleigh, N.C.; the county of Albany, N.Y.; Orono and Mount Vernon, Maine; Patterson, N.J.; and Moscow, Idaho, enacted similar measures. Over 330 cities and counties, representing 52 million people, are now on record against the undemocratic and misnamed act.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Protests over juvenile death penalty

Beginning June 29 and running through July 2, thousands were expected to camp out on the plaza in front of the Supreme Court demanding that the death penalty be ruled unconstitutional for children. The protests will commemorate the June 29, 1972, decision outlawing the death penalty. July 2 is the date of the 1976 ruling allowing executions to resume in the United States. Since 1976, 915 people have been executed in the U.S.

The Abolitionist Action Committee is among the various groups organizing the national demonstration and many traveling to the nation’s capital planned to fast for four days to halt the execution of children and to suspend the death penalty. Speakers included death row survivors, family members of murder victims, doctors and scientists.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (