Back Off and Show Respect

| April 07, 2005

What’s with so many trucks tailgating four-wheelers and, worse yet, big trucks? Can you see around a big truck when you’re 10 feet away from them? Don’t be stupid. Be more patient. Everyone sees what we do out here. Clean up your image. Be more courteous. And what happened to drivers flashing each other over or using turn signals? Is it that hard? Or is it something they don’t teach in driving schools anymore? Flash your lights on and off, not your high beams.

And why must everybody idle their truck when its 50 to 60 degrees out at night? I understand everyone needs to keep their batteries charged up while using their microwaves, but shut the truck off after a while. The same drivers I have seen in a restaurant complaining about how much fuel costs are the ones who walk back to their trucks idling in the parking lot. Go figure. One hour of idling puts the same amount of wear and tear on an engine as 72 miles of driving. It doesn’t surprise me that more states are passing anti-idling laws now.

I am very far from perfect. I do make mistakes. But there is a lot of lost common sense and courtesy out here. Nobody can improve trucking except ourselves.

David Lastoria
Cleveland

Unfair Labor Practices

I recently read a refrigerated food hauling magazine article with interest and disgust. It seems the grocery stores are actually charging the manufacturer for the privilege of putting their product on the shelf. As an independent operator of a small trucking company specializing in refrigerated transportation, “slotting” reminded me of a practice these same grocery store chains subject carriers to.

This practice is commonly referred to as lumping. An over-the-road truck driver arrives at a shipper and picks up the product. He drives long hours to get the product to its destination.

At the dock the receiver requires him to talk to a lumper, who demands anywhere from $50 to $300 to unload the freight from the truck. In the case of Wal-Mart Distribution Centers, you pay Wal-Mart for a Wal-Mart employee to unload Wal-Mart’s freight. This employee gets paid whether he unloads or he sits on the fork lift and watches the tired truck driver unload for free, pulling 2,000-pound pallets off with a manual pallet jack. Apparently, these “lumpers” are considered my contracted help. However, I have no control over the interviewing, hiring or firing of this so-called contracted labor. If one gets injured while unloading my truck, I am liable. If my driver gets injured while unloading this product, I am liable. In addition to being forced to unload with substandard equipment or pay the lumper is the demand that the driver pay for “restacking” or “repalletizing.”

My drivers do not supply free dock labor to grocery store warehouses. Additionally, I refuse to pay for pallets.

If the manufacturers refuse to sell to stores who require “slotting” fees and carriers and owner-operators refuse to pay for pallets, lumping, restacking and repalletizing, things will change.

Mark R. Taylor
Warren, Ark.


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Send your letters to Randy Grider, Truckers News, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406, by fax to (205) 750-8070 or by e-mail to rgrider@eTrucker.com.

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