A look in the mirror: Is Overdrive ‘fit for duty?’

| August 20, 2012

Response to our August cover story on large and small fleets alike making efforts to recruit Iraq and Afghanistan vets to their ranks brought with it no shortage of debate among readers.

Kentucky-based driver Rick Gaskill went so far as to question Overdrive‘s own fitness: “I’m really disappointed in Overdrive,” he wrote in commentary on the story here at the website. “The original magazine was oriented to owner-operators and drivers. I expected more than an ATA newsletter. Luring vets to CDL mills and megacarriers that are referred to as BFIs (“Bottom Feeders Inc.”) in trucker forums is disgraceful.”

Gaskill continued, partly on our Facebook page:

The biggest problem in the industry today is low pay and rates due to CDL mills supplying a surplus of desperate wanna-bes to megacarriers with high turnover. And you try to help them exploit veterans? Inexcusable. You’ve shown where your dedication is. Vets deserve better than an industry that has over 90 percent turnover and has stagnant wages that haven’t increased in 10 years. Do some research, vets. Major carriers have fewer trucks in their fleets than they had five years ago. The only reason they need thousands of drivers is because thousands of drivers quit. A 90 percent turnover rate means a carrier with 5,000 drivers has 4,500 replaced each year.

But D. Johnson, with Scott Fulcher Trucking, took a decidedly different tack. “Vets have been trained to get the job done no matter what the odds,” Johnson wrote. “I think they are a perfect fit for the trucking industry. They already have families that know how to deal with the absences from home. Kudos to the large carriers that see this!”

Then, responding directly to Gaskill:

As for the negative comments about trucking, five years of stagnant wages is the reality for most industries thanks to the economic bubble that popped. Bottom feeders? Like we say at our company, “Life is a mirror not a window.” Turnover is like divorce. Responsibility lies with both parties unwilling to look at themselves. Trust is the key, drivers who can be trusted to get the job done and management that does what they say and respects the driver. Vets get it. Companies will too — divorce is expensive! I am grateful to be in trucking! One thing for sure, it is never boring. Thanks Overdrive for highlighting our vets!

What do you think? Tell us here.

(We covered rates and pay as one of the top five owner-operator challenges, also in the August issue. For the complete round-up of reporting and supplementary work online, listed in reverse chronological order, visit this page.)

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