Surging diesel prices take toll on trucking industry

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- A rise in diesel prices is hitting the trucking industry hard, but truckers say ultimately, the consumer's the one who's going to pay. 

The head of the Teamsters Union Local 200 in Milwaukee says it's been a rough two years for the industry and this isn't helping.

The money's got to come from somewhere, and he expects we'll see it with a rise in prices of just about everything.

Diesel's national average right now, rising to a shocking $4.75 a gallon and expected to go up. 

Add another 10 cents to that, and according to AAA, that would match the all-time high of $4.85 set back in July 2008.

"I think they're terrible. I mean what are we gonna do about it, you know?" said Matthew Shugailo, truck driver from Illinois.

"It's making me want to cry," said Jonathan Bennett, truck driver from Florida. "Because it's so high, can I have a break? Can we have a break?"

Bennett is also an owner-operator, the group taking the biggest hit in the diesel price hike.

"We're not making that much money out here for fuel to go up that high," said Bennett.

"I think what the biggest problem we're gonna face is the uncertainty. Diesel fuel in Cal is six bucks a gallon. Here in Wisconsin, it's breaching right around the $5 mark." said Tom Bennett, Teamsters Local 200 treasurer-secretary.

Teamsters Local 200 represents some 4,000 truck drivers in Wisconsin.

"Filling up a truck with diesel fuel, spending a thousand dollars, somebody's gonna pay for that. Who's gonna pay for that at the end of the day is gonna be the consumer," said Bennett.

At this time last year, diesel's national average was just over $3 a gallon, about $2 less than where it's at today. 

The trucking industry's already been stressed because of a shortage of drivers that began before the pandemic.

"And the pandemic hit and then there was a rush for our employers to service their customers. They needed more help and that created monumental overtime," said Bennett.

There is concern from drivers about how the rise in fuel prices may trickle down to everything else.

"I mean, like it already does, like in the supermarket and everything with all the goods we buy, 'cause everything that's sold by a truck is just gonna go up in price," said Johnny Goodman, truck driver from Iowa.

"People wouldn't think that here in West Allis or Wauwatosa that the war with Russia and Ukraine would impact us. It has," said Bennett.

Just to show how quickly this is changing, one driver said he was in the area and saw prices at $4.85 a gallon Tuesday night. 

Four hours later, he looked back up and saw they'd jumped to about $5 a gallon in Oak Creek.

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