The leader of the Independent Truckers Association predicted yesterday that most of the nation's long-haul independent drivers would participate in a nationwide trucking shutdown scheduled to begin Monday.
At the same time, federal officials said they expect many drivers to stay home Monday, but return to the highways later in the week. The shutdown, if there is one, is expected to be most effective between Chicago and New York.
ITA President Mike Parkhurst said that the shutdown will continue until the government:
* Imposes a ceiling on state taxes on trucks.
* Repeals the increases in truck taxes included in the highway construction and gasoline tax increase bill that Congress passed in December.
* Holds "meaningful discussions" with the truckers about the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, which truckers find offensive.
Parkhurst claims that there are about 100,000 independent truckers, and that "98 percent" of them will park their trucks. The independents operate about one-third of the trucks hauling commodities, according to various estimates. However, they represent a much higher percentage of those carrying fresh produce and household goods.
Parkhurst said some truckers will picket at undisclosed locations, but that no confrontations are planned.
The American Trucking Associations, which represents most major trucking firms, has publicly opposed the strike while promising to seek major changes in the truck tax legislation. The Teamsters Union has been silent on the matter.
The Transportation Department and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) have been busy circulating fact sheets on the highway and tax legislation, partly to dispel the apparently widespread belief that the heavy truck use tax will take effect April 1, when federal gasoline and diesel taxes increase 5 cents a gallon at the refinery.
The heavy truck tax increase will be phased in over several years and will not begin to apply to independent truckers owning fewer than five rigs until July 1, 1985. When fully effective, the tax will be $1,900 per truck annually. At present it is $240.