The Central Valley California: “The Beautiful and the Damned”

This is a excerpt from my manuscript on 2004/2005 Intermodal trucker organizing in the Stockton area. It is still rough. Below are the sections on the Central Valley. I’m really interested in the question of how might we charactorize a place like the Central Valley. The stats on poverty in the area- making it one of the most impoverished region in the US- are shocking. You can read an earlier draft of the introduction in one of the older posts below.

2. Gritty Realities: Intermodal Truckers in the Central Valley


“We’re getting paid the same as 10 years ago, but everything else keeps going up. Insurance goes up. Everything goes up. And now gas. We make no money”

 -Jatinder Singh, Oakland port trucker



            What struck me hardest in organizing with the truckers in Stockton was the convinced resolution of the truckers of the need to fight their companies. Even the reluctant or scared drivers would not deny the reality of the conditions they faced. It didn’t seem anything like what might be called the trade union consciousness that urban workers I had previously organized with might develop. Perhaps owning, or at least mortgaging, their own trucks gave them a greater attachment to the industry as would any skilled worker who owned the tools that their employer depended upon. I would describe it as more of a gritty class consciousness than anything else, a consciousness that understood the daily necessity of the trucking companies to squeeze the truckers for profit and to maintain their competitiveness in relation to the logistics brokers.


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