N.Y. bill would back trucker work stoppage

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Twenty-six New York Republican assembly members are supporting legislation that advocates a May 15 trucker work stoppage and consumer fuel boycott. Assemblyman Patrick Manning last week introduced the resolution designating the day for state residents to abstain from buying or using motor fuel.

The proposal is hoped to “send a message to big oil companies and the state Legislature,” said Dan Gold, the East Fishkill assemblyman’s chief of staff. Gold said the majority of fuel sales tax revenue goes into the state’s general fund. The resolution states “the rising cost of motor fuel has not only the ability to hurt the residents and businesses of New York state, but the potential to damage our nation’s status as a world leader in trade.”

A Latham radio station, PYX 106, began promoting the work stoppage April 21. Bob Wolf, host of the weekday “Waking Up with the Wolf” show, has been deluged with calls from residents angry about fuel prices. After a trucker called to suggest a work stoppage, the show received hundreds of e-mails and calls supporting the shutdown from truckers, state workers and others.

Bill Joyce, president of the New York Motor Truck Association, said he does not expect a work stoppage to be effective. “Nobody’s been able to do that since Jimmy Hoffa,” Joyce said. “It doesn’t have the force of the law in it, and it does nothing but aggravate the customer and slow down supplies.” Also, carriers who consider participation often don’t follow through because they are afraid their competitors won’t shut down, he said.

On April 12, state assembly members voted 77-63 against a state sales tax exemption on fuel when it exceeds $2 per gallon. The plan also called for an Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund dedicated to the research, development and usage of alternative and renewable energy fuels. The bill previously had passed in the Senate.

Joyce said waiving the 4 cents per gallon state fuel tax during summer is an emotional reaction and a short-term solution. “Four cents is inconsequential,” he said. “The problem is the fuel price and the burden of the tax load in general.” State officials’ best option to provide relief is to require the fuel tax be dedicated to road and bridge projects, Joyce said.