The Trifling Take of Truckers

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The economy of 2018 is booming, according to any indicator you would choose to pick. One of the indicators of a booming economy is the volume of items sold. Most household or business items sold need to get to the household or business of destination, whether transported by the buyer, the seller or a third party. Every time the economy picks up, people buy more things. While today’s economy has a lot of intangible products such as streaming or downloaded products, there are still a lot of material products being purchased. Material products, be they commodities or finished goods, have to be moved, and the vast majority of times, the material products are moved by a truck. The trucking companies have lots and lots of potential customers, all wanting the company to transport something for them. Every time this economic condition happens, the trucking companies cry out that they cannot get enough drivers.

 

There’s a national driver shortage, and has been one for a long time. As someone who has extensive experience in the trucking industry, I can safely tell you, there is no driver shortage. Sorry, the driver shortage is another urban legend, conspiracy theory, fake news, whatever description you wish to use to describe something that doesn’t really exist. Before you stop reading and call me an idiot who is ignoring economic reality, allow me to elucidate. Transport companies defy the laws of economics, in that as something becomes rare, or the demand rises, the price of the object or commodity tends to rise as well. That is not really the case with truck drivers. The economy picks up, but truck driver wages do not respond in kind, at least not to the degree of economic increase that creates more demand for them. The shortage is trucking companies willing to pay decent wages. While we like to philosophically say people do things like work because they like doing them, many people work in occupations which they really do not enjoy. The idea of working hard, being away from home, and then not making much money is the worst of the worst. From my experience in the trucking industry, if the trucking firms paid more money, there would not be any shortage of truck drivers. The following paragraphs will offer more explanations of a rather complex situation.

 

A recent article by Rachel Premack in Business Insider of August 6, 2018, offered up an explanation by a truck driver who had driven in England, Canada and the United States. The well-traveled trucker, Mick Flynn, explained the driver shortage in one word. Money. Maybe I should repeat that; Mr. Flynn described the driver shortage as one of money, as in compensation, pay, wages, what people get paid to do things for other people. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, managers, programmers, all have seen their wages rise in the past few decades, some rising dramatically. Dramatically rising wages does not describe truck driving jobs.

 

When there’s a shortage of something, the price tends to go up. While I keep seeing the complaints about driver shortages, what I do not see are headlines stating that driver wages are soaring. Like almost all of the blue-collar wages in the U.S., truck driver pay has stagnated, and now that the economy is picking up, with the prospects of low wages for hard work, few people wish to get behind the wheel, spend weeks away from home, and sometimes work sixty-hour weeks for a paycheck that they could have made flipping burgers at the local fast-food outlet, and they would have been able to spend time with their family. In the U.S., most drivers are paid by the miles that they drive. In England, drivers are paid by the hour, which Mr. Flynn describes quite adeptly. If you are a driver in the truck in England, you are being paid, whether it is waiting to get loaded, unloaded, stopped because of weather, traffic of anything else. In the U.S., truckers generally do not get paid for waiting all day for their truck to get loaded, or unloaded, stopped in traffic or by weather. U.S. drivers get paid the miles from origin to destination, and that is about the extent of their compensation. From my experience, U.S. drivers also get miles from origin to destination reduced by only getting paid the mileage only from the county of origin to the county of delivery, which can in some cases mean twenty miles or more, unpaid, taken off the load delivered. Take the twenty miles times five loads delivered in a week, and the driver has lost a significant amount of money. Nice trick if you can do it, and I have seen it.

 

The trucking companies want to bring in drivers from south of the border, and some of them can barely speak English, but the trucking companies don’t mind, they just want someone to get behind the wheel and get that cargo to the customer. If getting paid three-hundred dollars for working a sixty-hour week is acceptable, where they drove a total of six-hundred miles but spent the balance of their time waiting for the truck to get loaded or unloaded, then it suits the trucking companies quite well. The trucking companies can always hire bilingual dispatchers who can talk to both the customers and drivers and solve any problems. Bilingual dispatchers are becoming a hot commodity.

 

There are high-paying trucking jobs, don’t get me wrong. In my experience as a trucking manager, I have met drivers who made over sixty-thousand dollars a year, but that is the exception, not the rule. I have seen drivers spend weeks out on the road, away from their families and, as noted, made less than four-hundred dollars a week. The trucking companies are asking a lot of their drivers, and, for the most part, the drivers aren’t being paid what their sacrifices are worth. Hence, a shortage of drivers.


I will address one other major problem with trucking. The driver from England, Flynn, said that when the roads became icy, in England, they stopped until it was safer to drive. In many instances in the U.S. the freight is J.I.T., meaning Just In Time. This no-longer-new idea originated in Japan, where the parts are delivered just in time to be taken to the assembly line and the parts are rolling off the assembly line as part of a finished product in less than eight hours. The supply chains of the auto manufacturers are as tight as banjo strings, and the trucking companies agree to pay fines if the deliveries are late and shut down the assembly lines. What those fines mean is that weather, traffic, breakdown, driver illness or any other delay means the trucking company pays for the delay. One of the companies I worked for got a bill for $128k for shutting down their assembly line. The modern manufacturers do not have so much as one shift of spare parts to maintain their production. There was once a very small article in The Wall Street Journal about a Japanese auto manufacturer whose production lines were shut down because of an $.89 piston ring. The manufacturer lost three million dollars for lack of a part worth less than a dollar. Most of the supply-chain management designers have never been behind the wheel of a truck and know very little about transportation, but the trucking companies sign up and risk, as the company I worked for, well over one-hundred thousand dollars for one late delivery.

 

One of the best ways to compare things is to take the mentality and put it in another situation and see if it works. I will take my car to the repair shop, and I will try to get them to agree on a time when they will be finished working on my car. If they are not finished working on my car when they promised, they will have to pay me fifty dollars an hour until the car is repaired. No auto repair shop would do that because of all of the unknown factors that could delay finishing my car. The same idea could be applied to trucking, where things you never planned on can delay delivery, but the fines are the same, because the trucking companies are willing to pay for late deliveries. These JIT delivery agreements create unbelievable stress on everyone. I cannot count how many times I was threatened that they would call my boss and have me fired because of late deliveries, not to mention the huge fines that the company would be obligated to pay for the late delivery. As one seasoned manager used to say, in an offhand criticism of the managers who agreed to JIT contracts: “I didn’t sign that contract.” No one, (with a few possible exceptions) with dispatch or fleet management experience would sign a contract agreeing to pay exorbitant amounts of money just so a company can save warehouse space.

 

As a certified professional in Human Resources, I understand, to some extent, that in terms of Human Resources, we have a driver shortage. I also understand why Mick Flynn doesn’t care to be a truck driver in the U.S., because in the U.S. you get paid by the mile, and in England, you get paid if you are on the job, getting loaded, unloaded, or sitting waiting for the roads to clear. As Flynn says, it’s about the money. Drivers need another method of compensation. Changing compensation would do a lot to end the driver shortage, but I do not look for that to happen any time soon. One of my original quotes (my original quote, as far as I can tell) is: “Those who say money is a poor motivator understand neither money nor motivation.”

 

Comments

Autumn Cote Added Aug 10, 2018 - 4:21am
Please note, it's against the rules to post articles here unless you comment on the work of others.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat!
Pardero Added Aug 10, 2018 - 10:35pm
Jeff Jackson,
Great article. 
I appreciate your experience and perspective.
As far as oilfield trucking, companies and drivers had to accept a lot of cuts after the last boom ended. Any minimal clawbacks are slow in coming. Recently, we got 15 an hour after the first 2 hours of standby. It was 4 free hours, for a couple of years.
 
Some of us are envious of the hourly drivers, but this area is still entirely paid by miles/load. I believe that the industry would be safer if it was all paid hourly, instead of the hurry mentality.
 
Because it is such a no-no to decline a load, the only time you can do chores or run errands is during your 10 hour sleep period, the rest of the time, you need to be able to rush down to the yard and haul a load, 24-7.
 
One of our chief competitors is down to 4 drivers, with a 14 truck fleet. Another competitor is hanging in there with Mexican drivers. A road construction company keeps staffed up by hiring former welfare mamas that got free truck driver school training.
 
We just had 3 drivers leave for different types of trucking jobs, but we hired 2 new ones. One is going to haul helium and make .46 per mile as a team driver, one is going to Oregon to drive a log truck. I don't know what Luis is doing. Maybe in Mexico living on his drag check.
 
I wish I was younger and didn't have a bad arm, I think I'd rather work construction or something.  I may look into construction hauling, it would be more likely to work a regular shift with hourly pay. It would be more physical, but my bad arm is still better than a lot of people's good arms. 
 
I thought I was gonna get a local welding supply delivery job, but they had a problem with the surgeries on my left arm. I hate to lie, and would only do it on an application if desperate.
 
 Food service pays the best, but it is extremely physical and super fast paced. It seems to be best for young men.
 
Owner operators do well, most of the time. They make decent money and can stipulate regular days off or even decline loads.
 
I ain't really complaining, Jeff. I squandered my youth and trucking is about the only game in town for me. I might be happier and healthier if I got away from the chicken or feathers of oilfield trucking.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 10, 2018 - 11:01pm
Thanks Pardero. I'm waiting for the folks who say the shortage is real and it is the truckers' fault. One of the big problems is that whatever the economy is doing, trucking gets hit first. Any recessions are felt by the trucking companies way before it impacts any other firms. I have endured the bouncing economy, and trucking bounces harder than some other industries.
The trucking companies saying they can't find drivers is like me saying I can't find a girlfriend, and by a girlfriend I mean a female under a certain age, with a net worth of a large amount, with certain features that I cannot live without, and, of course, a paid-off car less than two years old and a well-paid, recession-proof job. Can't find anyone? Lower your standards and get ready to pay more money. I guarantee greater pay will get more applicants. Thanks for the comments, Pardero, and be safe out there.
 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 10, 2018 - 11:25pm
Pardo, what about road oil for Sinclair? I seem to recall overhearing a couple of guys being quite happy there way back in the day. 
Pardero Added Aug 11, 2018 - 2:19am
Jeffry Gilbert,
That is a splendid suggestion!
This job has me so run down that I had forgotten to look into it. 
I have gotten the same impression from Sinclair drivers. They have low turnover, unlike Pilot or regional Homax. 
I do have HazMat along with doubles and triples. You'd think HazMat would be my ticket out of the lowest rung of trucking, sand hauling.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 11, 2018 - 7:28am
Nice suggestion Jeffry. Most of the time, the low-turnover trucking companies pay their drivers well, that why they don't have a shortage of drivers.
Dino Manalis Added Aug 11, 2018 - 8:15am
 Drivers are needed and they should be paid well!
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 11, 2018 - 9:23am
Thanks Jeff, I like ol' Pardo and want to see him do well.
Even A Broken Clock Added Aug 11, 2018 - 10:51am
Jeff, interesting article as usual. I will say that anecdotally, I am seeing a large increase in trucking firms advertising for drivers. But the basic pay structure is still the same, pay per mile vs. pay per hour spent on the job.
 
I never did talk with the drivers who picked up and delivered loads of chemicals in our plant. Opportunity missed, I guess.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 11, 2018 - 11:36am
Jeff,
Thanks for the interesting and informative post.  I read an article in the NYT about the driver shortage just recently.  Now I know why it is a fake shortage.  
 
I guess there is a difference between owner-operators and hired truckers.  The paid-per-hour vs. paid-per-mile discrepancy doesn't seem fair, nor does the JIT contract.  Why aren't truckers advocating for themselves along these lines?  (Thank you for doing it here.)
 
The NYT article said many state laws don't allow for truckers under 21, but it seems that states that do could have truckers working on short routes within the state.
 
I also wonder about rail.  It seems trucking companies could coordinate with rail freight to deliver containers long distances, with locally based truckers hauling the final miles, but this would take major coordination and cooperation.  Maybe some already do this.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 11, 2018 - 11:58am
Wow, Pard….only$15 per hour?  Seems low, I was making $18 starting, no cut out time last driving gig I had.  Was local, from yard to job sites hauling aluminum and glass curtain walls.  Only real "target" was arriving 5 min before to 5 min after "crane time."  since site cranes cost a contractor up to $30,000.00 per hour, there's a real problem if you show late.  Next load...move off...  I never was late over 5 years and 25 projects.  We'd get overtime for over 40 hours.  And there were night deliveries, so money was okay, if hard work.  Hired a lot of drivers and tractors to haul preloaded trailers.  Most drivers were good and knew about "on time."
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 11, 2018 - 6:32pm
Even, you are exactly right, and that is the reason they can't find any drivers. I know at least half a dozen former drivers who will not go back. Too much work for too little pay. Thanks for your comments Even.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 11, 2018 - 6:43pm
Thanks Katherine. The Teamsters used to have a heavy grip on the trucking companies, and they squeezed out a lot more pay for drivers. The Teamsters of the 1960s expanded the middle class by finally paying drivers a fair wage, and many of them stepped for the first time into the middle class. And you didn't see the economy tank, nor did you see unbridled inflation when drivers finally got paid a fair amount for their work. Hmmmm... The Teamsters, like most unions, have lost their place. If I may say so, the corruption of the union was not a help. I used to supervise Teamsters, and they got away with a lot of stuff, because they would fight for even the most irresponsible of drivers.
There is a lot more truck to train to truck shipping, where a truck picks up the load, they deliver it to a rail yard and then pick the load from a rail yard and deliver it. This is called "intermodal" shipping, and yes, it is very big. Rail companies are doing rather well lately, because of this change in the shipping process. The loss of the Teamsters union, the biggest in trucking, meant a lot of wage reduction for drivers, and there hasn't been any organization to step in. Thanks fro your comments Katherine.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 11, 2018 - 6:44pm
Jeff, a lot of the local drivers are making $18 an hour, mostly in the construction field, as you mentioned. Yes, the trucks have very tight delivery schedules, but most of the time the distances are not great, making tight delivery schedules possible. Thanks for your comments Jeff.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 11, 2018 - 6:46pm
Thanks Jeffry for the help for Pardero. I think he's an upstanding, God-fearing, hard-working man who deserves a break. Just my opinion, but I am sure shared with some of our cohorts. Thanks Jeffry.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 11, 2018 - 7:52pm
I wasn't a teamster, I was an iron worker, and due to good contract, my pay kept going up, plus I earned it.  I suspect your conclusions about Pard are correct.  Too bad he can't get a local job that might pay better and wouldn't have to disappear into "The road."  I know a lot of extra drivers we hired loved local, and of course, the better pay. 
Pardero Added Aug 12, 2018 - 1:52am
Thanks for the well wishes, everyone. I have been hauling and just got in.
 
Jeff Michka,
I had no idea that you used to drive!
The $15 is just for standby, for hours over 2, while waiting to unload.
 
Typical loads to North Jonah field pay from around 140 to 155, around 95 miles, 12 or so of it dirt.  When we get going on a decent sized frack, 2 load days are typical. Sometimes, we can get 3 on a 'preload,' before the frack goes 'live.' If I could get that many all the time, I'd be flush with cash. The problem is, after 10 off, you are subject to dispatch. We are required to be pre-trip inspecting our trucks in 45 minutes or less. 
Otherwise, we will be waiting on each other out there, and dispatch will have to tinker with the schedule. Adjustments can cause us to not have enough drivers reset, then hordes of trucks from other companies show up, causing even longer waits and compounding the problem.
 
Halliburton has been running huge stages, which makes it nearly impossible for my company to keep up. I wish Halliburton would let our dispatchers handle it, but they use their own 'system' to call all the other companies simultaneously.
 
Sometimes, we exhaust all local available supply of a certain size sand. Then we may go to Casper, Cheyenne, Craig, Vernal, or Cameo(Grand Junction). We also haul to those places if they have a shortage of sand.
Vernal pays little more than 'local,' because of short distance, but has many miles of 11% grades, elk and deer are thick, and the big hill that drops you into Vernal has 9 switchbacks.  3rd gear, so the Jake on a Caterpillar will hold you(loaded). We used to have a driver who was always 'sick' when dispatched to Vernal.  That road is the autobahn compared to Rangely-Grand Junction, the route that soured Luis on sand hauling.
 
When my company is unable to cover all the loads, things go south quickly. The loads are given away, and about 10 trucks will show up at the same time. That can lead to a single load day, running out of hours on the e-log, and spending the night out there. My company is good at getting you a load after you get your 10 hours off out there. 
 
It is an unpredictable industry. We have weeks with a few loads, due to well problems, and weeks running as much as the law allows.
 
My biggest gripe isn't the pay, actually. It is the schedule. It will run you into the ground. The only time it is safe to run an errand, is when you cannot be dispatched, i.e. your sleep period. 
 
Our sand arrives by rail at one of 5 different yards in town. The yards have a combination of direct rail car(via transloader) and silos. Halliburton transfers directly from railcar to silos. Open your hatches, and get loaded on the scale. Goodrich in Vernal is just the same. They are both highly efficient and don't require us to use our dodgy air suspension based scales.
 
You could say that we make between 10 and 30 an hour, depending on cirumstances. Too often, we squander the time, while waiting to be dispatched, and then get the call after a few hours of sleep.
 
I do keep an eye out for local jobs. I intend to get an application in, to Sinclair, as well as Old Dominion, who requires all drivers to have HazMat. I heard that they pay around 24 an hour. It is always promising when I see those day cabs.
Pardero Added Aug 12, 2018 - 2:59am
Katharine Otto,
I visit with fellow truckers occasionally, when we are all waiting to unload. I met Brady Trucking's 16 consecutive months Load Leader. I have been our load leader just once this year, but I now have a new blower, and will be a bit more competitive. He is a bright and ambitious young man with activist tendencies. He feels that the truckers should be sharing in this minor boom. 
 
Maybe we can scheme on something, since the companies are reluctant to claw back what was lost, after the last boom. 
Schumberger fracks, often on BP wells, are the worst. 4 to 6 hour waits are typical. The hourly drivers from Casper are fine with it, but the per centage guys(miles/lbs) are doing poorly. A 13-16 hour day, likely parked in a pullout for sleep, for about 150 bucks.
 
Brady drivers are allowed to decline loads, and remain at the top of the dispatch list! Other companies, including mine, need to allow the same. Then the drivers could shun incompetent and inefficient Schumberger and British Petroleum, who seems to have nothing but pinheads for Company Men.
 
 
Schumberger is third string, after Halliburton, and smaller TOPS. TOPS is good. They pay better than Hal, and steal Hal's top hands. They are arrogant, but perhaps rightfully so, because they are efficient. Schumberger has a lot of dumbasses and little girls working for them, though one lone girl on their best crew, manages the sand movers, and is lovely and competent. TOPS will probably steal her.
 
I get a chance to chit chat with Hal's hands a lot. Hal has friendly and helpful hands, including their females. I have to assume that Hal selects for personable team players. Ultra Resources also steals managers from Halliburton.
When they have to shut the fracks down for lack of sand, they can reconsider what they pay for a long miserable day or night in a dustbowl high desert.
We need to come up with something. You gotta make hay while the sun is shining.
opher goodwin Added Aug 12, 2018 - 7:09am
Jeff - is this all just part of the low-wage economy that America has adopted?
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 12, 2018 - 8:49am
Opher, I would tend to think it is exactly the low-wage economy that the U.S. has adopted. While the wages of everyone else soars, like CEOs and the professions, blue-collar jobs pay little more than they did 30 years ago, and employers cannot figure out why no one wants to work in those fields. Some find it amazing, but companies that pay good wages aren't much looking for workers, and there is no secret as to why. The companies looking for workers probably laid off everyone they could during the 2008 crisis, and expect everyone to just come back and give it another try some 9 years later. Could it be that many of those workers have "moved on?"
David Hilton Added Aug 12, 2018 - 9:31am
The global economy in general and the American and British economies in particular are shouldering massive and unserviceable debt. The "strong" economy is an illusion, and any indication of a strong economy is a false indication, the markets are being kept high by manipulation, they are fraudulent, a Ponzi created by the illegal collusion of the authorities and regulators with the criminal banks and financial institutions. This is the reason America is waging trade wars and imposing sanctions on every country who does not obey Uncle Sam`s commands; their disobedience primarily being trading in their own currencies instead of the $, which of course would mean an end to America`s primary source of income via the global extortion racket known as the petro-dollar and reserve currency. The American and British Establishment know that they cannot prop up their economies for much longer in the face of Russian and Chinese economic rivalry, unless they can break Russia and China by preferably financial pressure, or if that fails, war.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 12, 2018 - 3:04pm
David Hilton-Russia? Really?  Russia is a gigantic country with an economy less than that of Italy. California's economy is close to the entire state of Russia. Russia's economic threat is, as noted, less than that of Italy. So we cut back on the pasta, or no more Stolichnaya. There's always Vebrova, it's better anyway.
China- well there's a whole book on China. The U.S. helped what was, until Nixon opened up relations, nothing more than a Third-World country which regularly staved a few million to death every year. China is like a freshly spoiled child. It is nowhere near the unified state people think it is; they don't even  speak the same language. The U.S. did one heck of a lot to help China, and still does, all the while the Chinese steal every manufacturing and software secret they can.
"The American and British Establishment know that they cannot prop up their economies for much longer in the face of Russian and Chinese economic rivalry, "

I sure hope you're joking. 
Jeff Michka Added Aug 12, 2018 - 3:09pm
Gotta have an enemy made from a "friend" (Russia).  They'll have outlived their usefulness by this Fall, then ERWs can go back to demonizing them like the two-faced cowards the T party is.   Of course, America, getting rid of browness and back to being all lily white will be able to arm wrestle China.  right.  Of course, if "we" can't arm wrestle them, maybe a bunch of nukes will keep them quiet, eh?
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 12, 2018 - 7:02pm
China's expansionist policies are already earning distrust and disrespect from its neighbors. Bear in mind that it was such a disorganized country that Japan rode roughshod over them just a few decades ago. Japan also defeated Russia in the last century. Both Russia and China have vast territories and yet, both seek expansion in and around their neighbors. The Cold War is revving back up, not from U.S. policy as much as the policies of Russia and China. If they had all of the economic power you attribute to them, why would they need even more territory and more slaves? They cannot handle what they have, and their economies are both highly dependent upon other nations. They are not self-sufficient, even with all of the resources they have at their disposal.
China is one of the greatest polluters in the world, and the world is giving them a pass. China is already seeing the impact of its rampant pollution upon their population, the result of unbridled industrial expansion. China's latest leader has appointed himself the ruler until his death, which will make interesting its future. When is Putin going to be voted out? Probably never. Politically and economically, both nations will face severe problems that will come about because of their lack of transparency and dictator-style governments. Their only alternative is to insist that the big bad U.S. wants them dead, and unite their citizens against a common enemy. Iran is doing the same.
Their options are slim, because of their draconian governmental policies. The internet, while certainly filled with fake news and the rest, might just deliver enough samizdat to bring great changes to both. Afraid of them? Hardly.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 13, 2018 - 5:25am
The DUHmericans have thousands of people in their Embassy in Bangkok and are spending billions of dollars trying to reduce the speed at which China is displacing DUHmerican influence both in Thailand and the region. 
 
They are failing. 
 
The reason is simple. DUHmericans don't want to pay enough for products made in Thailand for the producers to make a profit where regional players understand the necessity. 
 
Thai businesses want to do business with DUHmericans but won't cut their own throats in the process. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Aug 15, 2018 - 9:06pm
A very nice guy I knew was killed a few years ago in Texas when the roads were unusually icy. Being from Wisconsin, he probably checked his speed at points, anyway what I heard was the traffic slowed and a truck hit him from behind at such as speed that his car exploded into a fireball. 
 
At some point in the early 90's, when enough traffic incidents happened, Pizza joints quit their 20 minute delivery or your money back guarantee. Maybe everyone needs to rethink some of these policies that are simply stupid. If Pizza joints are smart enough to do this, why not large corporations? 
Cullen Kehoe Added Aug 15, 2018 - 9:08pm
My understanding as well, which I have no stat's to back up (so may not be 100% true), is many trucking companies have been hiring illegals for years and paying them next to nothing. But Trump is drying up that labor supply.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 15, 2018 - 11:08pm
Yes, Cullen, but the corporations, automobile manufacturers and Walmart, I might add, have claimed to have saved so much money by doing their JIT supply chains that they will not stop. The trucking companies need to stop giving in and tell them the reality of moving things via highways. Yes, many of the trucking companies use owner-operators who have less than full credentials. It's all about the money. Thanks for your comments Cullen.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 16, 2018 - 4:39pm
Well, I 'd hope things would work out better for Pardero.  I was replaced by someone coming in and willing to start at under $14, but the union found out and he got moved up to $18.  Driving a rig in desperately heavy  , with tight schedules and small spaces to off load in make the local driving a "skill thrill."  Then there's the loads.  Sounds like Pard has oil field trucking down, yet I'd be lost until I learned.  Corps hate paying anyone to work for them, including drivers, but the first time "shit happens," they may temporarily change their tune.  The trend to almost making workers work for "free,' letting go those asking for raises is the norm.  Cuts into the big pile of dough the C* people get for "making tough decisions" like underpaying worker.  Why workers need a union.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 16, 2018 - 4:41pm
Pardon, "desperately heavy traffic..."
Pardero Added Aug 16, 2018 - 8:31pm
Jeff Michka,
Sorry belated. I have been hauling. 
This is really easy technically. I am very weak at alley docking, but few locations have anything like a true alley dock. 
 
One company actually sends new guys out with their own truck, and a veteran runs both trucks. My company trains for 2 or 3 loads. It can take weeks to learn how to tweak your valves for fastest unloading. 
 
If you are in a metro area, you certainly are/were not overpaid.
One of these guys brags, 'I'm making 30 bucks an hour.'
 
Not exactly. I made 330 before taxes, 2 days ago. After 10 off, I was available for duty. Can't do anything except fritter away the time. 34 hours later, I got dispatched. 
Today is going well, but I need to assemble a new hose when I get back. Maybe in the mid 20s per hour, unless I wash my filthy truck and trailer, then low 20s.
 
I have mixed feelings about unions. They seem to promote illegal alien hiring. When I was down on my luck, I was working side by side with 20 something illegal aliens. They keep the wages down. Any roustabout should be starting at 16-18 an hour.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 16, 2018 - 10:43pm
Jeff, Pardero, I am not an advocate or critic of unions. They have done a lot for American workers, and that is historically undeniable. Many workers stepped up to the middle class because of unions. While unions certainly have caused problems, like defending and insisting that workers not be fired for outrageous conduct, they have also defended and protected honest, hard-working citizens. There are two sides. I am not sure that people who do not want to be represented by unions should be forced to pay union dues, but higher wages are frequently the result of union efforts, and the worker who doesn't want to pay the dues might be benefiting from union efforts.
The unions were first considered illegal because they were, in fact, a monopoly of labor that was defying the market forces. It wasn't until the 1930s when the Supreme Court declared that unions could legally negotiate wages, where before it was legally questionable. From personal experience, Hostess Brands (or the company before the present Hostess brands) was driven out of business because the union had insane policies that bankrupted the company. ( I personally spoke with a manager who described the insane policies that cause the firm to go broke.)
GM and its crazy union policies was harmed as well. I liked when the CEO of GM, in the early 1980s, was showing a union rep all the the robots that they created to do the work, and the union rep turned to him (Smith, I believe) and asked how many cars were those robots going to buy? GM's 1980s robot culture got a rude awakening when they realized that when they went to change models, they had millions of dollars in robots that were nothing but junk, unable to retool for the new models. Robots have changed since then, but the concept remains. As we replace workers with robots, now much of the products they create will the robots, buy? Not much. I see robots taking over for drivers, and that is the next step being furiously worked on by the truck manufacturers.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 17, 2018 - 6:21pm
I'm sure truck manufacturers are working on driverless trucks, but wonder how well they do when on the spot thinking, as well as off loading becomes a question.  Your observation about model changes on an automated car factory floor rings more than true.  I see a future for drivers, particularly in urban settings, local haul.  As to unions, well, a good contract has some meaning, not only for wages, but conditions.  The last contract I was involved in had to do more with vacation time than wages.  Getting week paid first year of hire, then two weeks for next year, then three and four weeks, so someone working four years got a month paid time off, which went down well with the workers.  Now, if "we" as a nation can grapple with low wages in times of high profit, we'll have something going on.  Not holding my breath.
Pardero Added Aug 17, 2018 - 7:08pm
Jeff Michka,
Some companies would like to pay a living wage, but they can't compete with other companies that have lower labor costs.
Roustabouts are nearly 100% illegal aliens. Americans believe that they are better off working an auto parts counter or stocking at Walmart, since the pay is similar. Our young men aren't learning the skills to advance, such as operating trenchers, backhoes, or pipefitting, skills that the illegals are learning. 
 
Eventually, a rival trucking company will be able to underbid us enough to win contracts, simply because they use lower cost labor. With an inexhaustable supply of cheap labor, it is a race to the bottom. Union support of Democrats collapsed around here. People finally realized that they better vote their pocketbooks. 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 17, 2018 - 8:18pm
Pardero, every parent (except for those new to this great land) wants their child to go to college. Recently some companies specifically request no college needed to apply. I think our fascination with college is ending, and I find the disrespect for some college degrees appalling.  Thanks for your comments, Pardero and Jeff, and I hope the job market is nicer to you than it has been to me.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 18, 2018 - 2:20am
I worked at sea both with and without a contract. Working conditions, wages and co-workers were all much better when a contract was in place. 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 19, 2018 - 6:45pm
Yes, unions protect workers and make working livable. That's why we needed them long ago, and still do. Too many corporations would drain the last bit of life out of people when given the opportunity. Thanks for your comments Jeffry.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 19, 2018 - 7:22pm
Bingo, Jeff.  Yup, some employers want "the last bit of life out of people" without a question or thought, and Captn Gilbert is correct about working when a contract in place vs when it's not.  We do need unions, as tough and pervasive as they once were.  Far as I'm concerned "One Big Union" ala IWW.  Wobs were tough and gutsy.  What amazed me were Canadian haulers.  Rig would pull in, driver would get out, see it was a remote satellite yard, and would bang on the side of the cab, then as many as 8 guys would pile out of the sleeper.  Many/most Canadian haulers are East Indian ethnics  and drive as a group, which can be really weird.
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 19, 2018 - 8:00pm
Yes, Jeff, and unions in the U.S. have been on the decline since the 1970s. Isn't it strange how blue-collar wages stagnated, at the very same time that union membership declined? Funny how those things work, isn't it? On top of wages stagnating, since the workers didn't get any more money, and yet, prices inched up. CEO pay soared, and they didn't have a union, but they did have their pals in several high-authority positions.
Thanks Jeff.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 20, 2018 - 7:26am
Record breaking orders in July for new trucks. 300,000 so far this year 450,000 projected total orders for the year. Can't keep production lines running due to disruptions in JIT due to ELD rules. 5 month backlog now 9 months. 
Pardero Added Aug 20, 2018 - 9:16am
Captain Gilbert,
In spite of those numbers, I don't expect a raise. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Aug 21, 2018 - 7:28am
I don't expect a raise. 
 
Whether it was 13 cents forty years ago or 36 cents today you're still a commodity to them. 
 
George N Romey Added Aug 30, 2018 - 8:54am
My sense is that the economy is beaming with mostly low paying jobs. Just a glance at any of the job boards and the vast majority of jobs are paying under $40K.  Its my understanding many drivers today are paid by the mile not the hour so traffic jams and the like are on the driver's time.   The same thing is happening with commerical airline pilots.  The system as it is requires pilots to work several years for regional carriers where a FO makes less than $20K a year.  How many people can survive on less than $20K a year?
Jeff Michka Added Aug 30, 2018 - 3:57pm
So, okay, Geo...Everything you said is true.  What are "we" going to do about it.  Making it simpler for you, what are You going to do about it?
Pardero Added Aug 30, 2018 - 4:03pm
Jeffry Gilbert,
Jeff Michka,
George N. Romey, 
Jeff Jackson,
There may never be better conditions or timing for a movement to unionize truckers.
Jeff Michka Added Aug 30, 2018 - 5:28pm
All it takes to start is one driver on a mission, Pardero.  You're right, it's a good time for any workers to unionize.  Just recently in this state, workers in legal pot shops organized and got unionized via UFCW.  These workers now have insurance, conditions, pay, all of which they couldn't have because the pot industry is still federally illegal.  Where there's a will, there usually is a way.
Pardero Added Aug 30, 2018 - 7:39pm
Jeff Michka,
The long hours have me feeling my age, though I just retired another debt this morning. I ran my race, and didn't win, place, or show. I am just trying to jog to the finish line with dignity, and without owing anyone a thin dime. I need that ambitious and articulate load leader from Brady Trucking to run with it. If  I can only persuade him, I think he has the fire in his belly, that I may lack. 
Jeff Michka Added Aug 30, 2018 - 8:39pm
I realize when we retire or near retirement, it feels like we're carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, and things like outstanding debt take on a new importance.  If you've found someone you feel can do the job instead of you, good!!  Encourage them, help them if you can and keep things in "we" mode when talking.  I know "rugged individualism" was the thing to help convince workers unions were bad, in part.  Unions need the collective "we" to be organized and work.  It requires instilling in all it requires them, too, everyone.  There are resources out there if your person isn't sure where to start organizing, etc.  Wish you, him, all of you well in this pursuit.  We all need success stories now.  I hate to say this, but check out a couple of more lengthy articles published about "Neighborhood Oraganizing."  Many of the practices and techniques were garnered from Labor organizing.  End this worthless "horn toot" on that last note.  Take care, Pard. 
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 30, 2018 - 9:30pm
Same here on the union. If the workers are all be taken advantage of, then the only solution is to unite and take back the power. Workers form unions because they are being exploited. If the CEO has to give up a few million of their generous compensation, then so be it. As a labor professor from one of the New England states said: "If they can't get the pay right, think of all the other things that they're not getting right." Good luck Pard.
Pardero Added Aug 31, 2018 - 6:59am
Thank you, gentlemen.

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