Is It a War On Truckers?

Trucking has changed from a business for those doing the work of bringing the countries goods from one end of the country to the other and being profitable, not only for the trucking company, shipper and receiver, but for the driver as well.  For the driver, back in the day, this proved to be a good venture, especially financially.  Pay was good, benefits were good, and home-time was something to boast about. A person could make good wages and be able to afford a home, car, and many other necessities of life without having to struggle over how to pay the next weeks bills.  Over the years, it has changed, primarily because pay became stagnant, with little if any change to keep up with the level of the economy.

Though many still do, owner operators used to make above level funds, yet over the years, big companies came into being. Companies that have grown exponentially, with more trucks, equipment, and people numbering well over 1000, which brought strong competition for moving freight, so strong that freight rates dropped heavily, forcing many small business owners to see heavy losses and face either bankruptcy, or just throwing in the towel and selling out what little they had because they couldn’t keep up with the costs of running their business, and keeping their homes. Some say that deregulation was a contributing factor  as well, leaving room for the big companies to expand more and more, forcing the small business operators out. While many have survived, their numbers have dropped significantly.

Now, companies complain about a severe shortage in the number of drivers available. with many that have been in the industry since returning from earlier military service and Baby Boomers that have been in the industry for many years are leaving the drivers seat, in large part due to the many changes that have taken place over the past few years, along with the lack of Quality drivers on the road, and a lack in increases in pay to meet up with economic levels.

While companies have been looking for more drivers, they have, in some circumstances, increased driver pay, along with offering some hefty bonuses to new drivers coming into their employ. Bonuses that get paid out over a matter of time, not all at once. And the increase in pay is also an effort to get drivers to remain with their company.  Problem is, if policies at some companies do not change to reflect a better outlook to remain, the pay raises will not be a guarantee to the company that they will retain those drivers. In some places, those policies will have to change to the point that if a driver has any kind of serious question as to the meaning of a policy, then a reasonable answer need be given, and not a response that calls for the driver to return their assigned truck to the terminal and leave the company, as this fails to help retain drivers. Plus, the quality of driver has been a concern to many experienced drivers in this as well, which in many cases, fall squarely on the back of the individual trucking company and their training programs as well,

Many  changes have been made in trucking over the years as well that has affected the shortage, in part due to the rapid changes in the hours of service, to heavier restrictions, to the ELD mandate, and most recently, the push by the ATA (American Trucking Association), who not only pushed for the ELD, but who have, since 2015, been pushing to have wording from the 2015 Denham Amendment, written by Rep, Jeff Denham (R) from California. An amendment that can, and will, negatively affect the average drivers pay by ensuring that any time spent outside of driving time, will never be compensated unless an individual company decides on their own to pay those drivers.  An amendment that has been soundly defeated since 2015, an amendment that the ATA has attempted to get through every Federal Transportation bill in the country, To include the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. This time includes Layover and detention time, and additional time needed to load secure and unload freight from their rigs. Those that will benefit from this change will be the trucking company, in many cases, along with shippers and receivers, while the driver is to be left to the mileage they have to drive to move the freight, with some companies using strictly household mover miles, or PCMiler miles set strictly for the shortest route possible, and not the practical miles it actually takes to make delivery on time, and effectively.

The Denham and Fischer amendments, these amendments, must not be passed, along with the Fischer Amendment, which applies to truckers rest and meal breaks. The latter of which was defeated in the state supreme court in California, winning drivers the right to be compensated for required breaks which they were mandated or told to take.  Both these amendments are being pushed hard by the ATA, which apparently will fight repeatedly to see passed, in any transportation bill that comes before congress, even if this is to include an  Omnibus bill, or a stand-alone bill.  The ATA has been pushing so hard, that they have even laid false reports that the bill has already been passed in hopes to discourage drivers and their families from contacting their state representatives to voice their concern and demands to see these amendments are prevented from being enacted upon, or included in federal transportation bills.

Truckers must be understood, and respected, for what they do, give, and sacrifice. Especially by those in power in the industry, before drivers finally bring themselves together and fight back in a way that the Transportation Machine has never before experienced, and may well wish never happens again.  This war of wages and employees Must come to an end, amicably. And the ATA needs to step aside, and think, not of themselves, but of the people who are the ones that are primary in making the machine work properly.   Those people being, The American Truck Driver!

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Hal Kiah

Hal is a 20+ year OTR Veteran driver and a 12 year military police veteran. He has also served as a dispatcher and has been a trainer for new Over The Road Heavy Haul drivers. Hal has performed “FHWA” inspections (now called DOT Inspections) . He has been instrumental in the last few years, aiding and mentoring other drivers via social media and personal communications as founder of Truck Driving Career, on Facebook and has a passion and goal of seeing that drivers are respected and recognized for their efforts and sacrifices in the trucking industry, recognizing that trucking is a Lifestyle, and not just a job.