Women’s voices finally being heard
DESIREE Wood had a message for Australian women working in trucking who feel like they are struggling to have their voices heard – never give up.
Speaking at a session on legal rights at GATS 2018, the head of the advocacy group Real Women in Trucking, Desiree shared how her persistence against seemingly impossible odds is starting to pay off.
“When I entered trucking in 2007 I had a lot of problems in my training, like a lot of other drivers had,” Desiree said.
“I tried to reach out to another organisation and I was silenced.
“In the last 10 years I found that many, many women have been blocked, silenced, told to not talk about what’s happening to them when they were going through team driving in mixed gender teams to pull team freight. They were told that the only women who get recognised are the ones who serve in silence and my membership was revoked.”
Desiree said there is now a groundswell of other like-minded groups springing up to form a coalition of sorts to help give women in trucking all over the US a united voice against things like sexual harassment, assault retaliation during truck driver training, lease fraud, student truck driver exploitation, and blacklisting.
Real Women in Trucking itself now has a budget of US$26,000 and has been quoted in major mainstream media outlets around the world.
“We are drivers and we did this, while we’re driving full-time, so I want everyone who says we don’t have a voice, to know you have a voice, you do.
“You’ve just got to put in some effort and don’t wait for these bigger organisations to speak for you. They are not speaking for you.”
RWIT’s most high profile recent battle is the unsealing of documents in a class action lawsuit case against long-haul carrier CRST.
Over the next few months Desiree plans to publish blog posts to summarise some of these documents to help people better understand what has been occurring in this fleet.
She says it is now time to hold the trucking industry accountable and demand sweeping change with regards to the sexual misconduct that occurs in several entry level driver training fleets that require team driving.
“Nobody should have to go into a training program and be petrified of the person they’re in the truck with,” she said.
PROUD DRIVER: First-time competitor Bart Boudreaux with the 1980 Peterbilt he restored to its former glory.
Real Women in Trucking founder Desiree Wood.