Truck drivers' protest causes delays on Okeechobee Road

'Unfair' labor practices prompt dozens to block busy road during rush hour

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – Protesters blocked Okeechobee Road west of the Palmetto Expressway on Tuesday afternoon to protest low pay, high fees and increased Department of Transportation regulations. The roadway reopened Wednesday morning.

Dozens of truckers halted traffic and authorities were asking drivers to avoid the area in Hialeah Gardens and Medley. 

One person was stunned and arrested during the protests, the Florida Highway Patrol reports.

The lone person arrested was charged with resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. Local 10 News is told the two truck drivers in Tallahassee remain in jail.

Protestors said they're against the owner-operator model which they believe doesn't work.

Cynthia Calderon recorded her father being hauled away alongside another woman.

"I feel like they are treating him like an animal. I think cops should see the hard work these truckers go through every day of their lives," Calderon said.

Most of the drivers are independent contractors who lease or own their trucks, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The organization is contesting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's electronic logging device mandate

The companies that contract the truck drivers don't have to pay their insurance, according to the American Trucking Association. The cost of the logging device would also fall on the truck drivers, who need to have one running by Dec. 16, 2017, according to the rule

"We're not getting paid fairly. They are stealing from us, the brokers," trucker Ronald Esperon said. "That is all they are doing. All we are trying to do is pretty much do a peaceful protest."

"It's sad because a lot of people are losing their trucks," trucker Randy Avila said. "There a lot of them losing their trucks and their houses. They're families."

The protesters organized a rally ride from Miami-Dade County to Tallahassee. There was a similar protest near Florida State Capitol, where police arrested a trucker who refused to move his truck and another who allegedly attempted to impede the arrest, according to WCTV


About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.