Carriers grappling with solutions for uncompensated detention

| October 19, 2012

Despite indications more carriers are offering or improving trucker detention pay, there seems to be no clear consensus for change. In a series in August by Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills, uncompensated detention time ranked as one of the top overall problems facing owner-operators today.

This month, Con-way Truckload announced pay upgrades to include a reduction in the time drivers wait before detention time compensation applies. Starting Nov. 25, the Con-way Inc. subsidiary will apply the extra pay starting at two hours instead of three.

Con-way Truckload President Saul Gonzalez said drivers are often kept at the docks longer than the two to three hours it takes to load or unload. Excessive detainment reduces driver compensation and had been the top driver concern he had recently heard, he said.

After introducing a wait time fee last year, Marten Transport increased its detention pay rate in March to $17 per hour for waits exceeding two hours. Those picking up or delivering at companies with consistent extreme detention issues will continue being charged a wait time rate of $20 per hour.

In the first quarter of 2012, 44 percent of carrier executives surveyed indicated they were attempting to address detention time, according to Transport Capital Partners.

That TCP Business Expectation Survey stated this effort probably had “more to do with the increased probability of revised hours of service regulations than a desire to improve the bottom line.” Also, shippers now are more receptive to working with carriers to assure HOS compliance and better use driver hours, the survey noted.

David Heller of the Truckload Carriers Association said he was not aware of recent discussions by carriers considering adding or improving wait time pay. Still, the TCA safety and policy director said HOS changes have led to detention time becoming more critical as the driver supply begins shrinking again.

More carriers are facing the problem of having the equipment and freight available, but not sufficient manpower to move it, Heller said.

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association stated there had been some in the industry that expected HOS changes to heighten shippers’ and receivers’ concerns over efficiency and driver wait time, However, the associations’ 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 survey showed little change in detention time.

According to this year’s survey, 40 percent of respondents said they did not receive wait time pay.

Fifty two percent of respondents compensated for wait time received it on 25 percent of all loads. Thirty percent of leased owner-operators did not receive wait time compensation, compared to 54 percent of those with their own authority.

Per week, 50 percent of independent contractors averaged ten hours or less waiting and 31 percent had 11 to 20 hours per week detention.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a detention time study that included data from 300 owner-operators and company drivers as well as additional industry stakeholders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.s.hughes Shelley Scarbrough Hughes

    $17 – $20 per hour? Seriously? You could sit there all day,burning fuel idoling in weather related months for less then $200 in 10 hours of waiting. How long would you stay in business doing that? Why wouldn’t you charge the same as the shippers and receivers charge YOU if you are late delivering or picking up a load, or if they have to stay 30 minutes overtime? That has always been the major problem with the trucking industry, it’s called DEREGULATION, thank you very much President Reagen!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tdewitt73 Tim DeWitt

    The customer ties up $150k truck, $30k – $80k trailer and the driver and detention time is being paid at $17 an hour? Not to mention that they could be putting the driver / company at risk of failing to meet the next load commitment. At $2 a mile and 60 mph, the truck is grossing $120 per hour, and that is the minimum that should be acceptable. Anything less is a joke.

  • Boun Midcity trans

    I think drivers should refuse to haul for shipper that doesn’t want to compensate for the loss time, especially some shipper now announce that they will not pay until three hours have passed, some even four. We should ban those inconsidered shippers.

  • MJL

    Tim…That’s what I have been saying for a long time…Its hours lost that you will never get back….

  • Stanley Lippard

    I was a trucker for 41 years 33 of them as an O/O and leased to a carrier. I know that thru all them years I did not collect enough in detention time all together it would not have even bought a good flat screen TV. The companys had it in their policies and contracts but rarely did they file for it afraid of losing a customer. They would rather lose a truck always thinking there was another one to take its place. And just now the FMCSA is going to do a multi year study on it What a joke. You never should have put this article in print. You are giving these guys false hope. Before 1980 and deregulation I got detention time but guess what I didnt wait back then because they knew they had to pay it under union contracts and ICC rules. That went out the door after deregulation I have been out of trucking for over a year now I still have nightmares over waiting to get loaded and the way I was treated by shippers and recievers I call it PTSD from trucking’ Just like being in a war no one can understand it until they have went thru it. Truckers should be paid strictly by the hour for all hours they are in that truck. then trucking companys and all of them would start screaming at those shippers to get them trucks loaded or else will cost them but hat will never happen it might fix something. People ask me if I miss trucking I say NO WAY I was paid like and treated like an 3rd world fruit picker

  • mousekiller

    It is not the shipper that is the problem most times. It is the carrier that thinks to demand detention for their drivers will cost them the customer. In some cases it may happen . Shippers will pay if several things are in their favor. Dependability of carrier. The rate that the carrier charges them. Service of carrier. Attitude of drivers at customer.Equipment availability. It takes all this and more to command the constant partnership of customers. Some shippers look at only the rate per mile for that day and seldom at the long term savings of a good carrier. Unless your a company driver you have a choice whether or not to haul for that customer. If you have your own authority you set the rates and conditions.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.sitlerphd Andrea Sitler

    The industry needs to take a collective stand on this issue. It is a major one that affects the bottom-line of the company as well as the O/O and driver. Time is money and never has that been more true since the HOS change limiting the overall workday. Just as an hourly worker is compensated for his/her time; so should a driver be compensated. The driver did not choose to go sit in the parking lot and wait. Dispatch sent him/her there due to an agreement with the shipper/receiver on time. S/R need to respect the time of the driver and compensate for delays.
    I manage a local drayage firm and we offer 1 hour free in the local area. Some of our competition offers 2 hrs. Either way; if you pass the 2 hr mark and it is local – make it a drop. That is better for the driver, the company and the S/R. Most facilities know going in how long THEY are going to take to load/unload the truck. Be upfront and let the driver drop (again for local work) if you know it will be over an hour. Plus these companies need to realize that time starts once on property…not after the half hour wait to get to the check in window or the 45 min wait that it took to sign the driver out. That is all part of the detention package.
    It also bothers me that drivers are promised compensation at rate X but companies only pay once they have been paid and generally at a “changed” rate. Too many companies negotiate detention time with the customer to save face further cutting the driver out of the situation. If you say you are charging detention time; do it. Pay the driver when he/she turns in the paperwork as you would any other agreed payment. It is the company’s responsibility to collect those funds. Stand behind your drivers. Stop expecting them to do work for free or wait 2 months to be compensated for their time. I have heard the argument that the driver “fudges” the paperwork and we have to be sure. If that is the case, take disciplinary actions on the offender. No need to punish the many for the acts of the few.
    Many companies do this hoping the driver will quit and not have to be paid. I was amazed years ago when I had pulled my trucks from a company and here three months later a check arrived for due detention time. I will always remember that company fondly for that act regardless of why we parted company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.sitlerphd Andrea Sitler

    I believe the trucking company, not the shipper/receiver, should set the detention policy for it’s drivers. The company needs to pay the driver for his/her time. If the company negotiates another deal with the S/R that is on the company not the driver. Unfortunately that is not how it works but it is how it should work.

  • Marty Marsh

    Right on, 40 years here and I can vouch for everything you have said. It is an ugly ugly business, and I don’t ever remember being treated that good.

  • Marty Marsh

    Come on, what are you trying to sell here. You charge a shipper or reciever for sitting they will be on the phone getting the next carrier before you are even out of there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    Sometimes, Marty, it works, if you can deliver quality service. I know small fleet owner Tom Blake has seen it work — a little on his operation here: http://www.overdriveonline.com/could-eobrs-solve-the-detention-dilemma/

    His story on detention is one of just sitting down with his customers and talking it out, generally, and he’s kept them in large part.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    We hear you, Andrea. So more carriers should have across-the-board policies on detention pay for drivers regardless of whether they’re collecting from shippers? But would you then see carriers who went this route reducing per-mile rates and/or percentage pay, making it a wash on pay in the end?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Infoworld/100000701217782 John Infoworld

    $3 a minute for all wait time. $3 for every mile. Pay for what you use, shipper! Or else get out your little red wagon and haul the trash yourself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Infoworld/100000701217782 John Infoworld

    I got news for shippers.
    Either pay for what you use, both time and all miles. Or else, get out your little red wagon or U-haul trailer and haul the trash yourself!
    What do you think, I get free food and fuel and people give me free tires and truck parts? This is my business, and you either pay for my service or else do without. Hey, drive on down to the local truck dealer, why-don’t-ya, and see about buying your own tractors and trailers. Then, we’ll see how much free time you are willing to give away!
    Oh, and when you haul your trash to the receiver, you’re gonna love all those lumper charges they demand!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Infoworld/100000701217782 John Infoworld

    Here’s what I love most of all about the customers. The plate glass windows, with the tiny little slot at the bottom. Make me strain to hear where you want me to load or unload. Treat me like i’m some bacteria that you need to isolate yourself from. Yeah, one day you and every other trash customer who does that will wake up to find that NOBODY want to haul your garbage anymore. Then, you can slide your little glass window SHUT and keep it shut!

  • ldmff

    Most companies don’t pay detention, they say until they get paid from the shipper or receiver, how many times have they claimed neither party payed and kept the money and screwed the driver or the O/O! Easy money aye!

  • Myron LInd

    He doesn’t have to get his own little red wagon. There seems to be a long line of bitter drivers lined up and waiting to wait for the loads

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Infoworld/100000701217782 John Infoworld

    Not for long. The old-timers are fading away fast. You see any 25-year-old drivers out there? Eager and ready to work? I sure don’t. You think there would be any sign-on bonuses if there were eager drivers? Most drivers that I met would gladly grab the first exit out of trucking for good, if they see one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Infoworld/100000701217782 John Infoworld

    In the coming future, there will be only two companies left. Wal-mart and Swift. Both will pay nothing at all for wages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills
  • Bob L.

    I’ve been saying the same for a few years already; there are not many young drivers out there anymore. When they find out the hours and effort that has to be put into trucking, the poor compensation plus throw in a giant list of lousy conditions and unworkable government work rules they back away in a hurry. So you make a $1000 as a paycheck for the week and you have worked 60 hours that comes out to $16.66 / hr (of course we know that in reality 60 hours a week in trucking is a fallacy). If one were to work 40 hours / week at a real job @ $16.66 plus 20 hours of overtime at time & one half ($24.99 / hr.) that would come out to $1166.20 for the week plus getting to go home every night and having a life. Which do you think most sensible thinking people would choose? Does anyone suspect that may have something to do with the quality of people we are seeing more of behind the wheel? An old friend who had been in trucking all his life said it was a dog’s life with a dog’s wage.

  • Cor

    I have been a truck driver from 1970 till 2000, the year I retired. Before that I was in the military (air force) as a driver, so I think I have a bit of experience. The thirty years I was a company driver each and every month I had to argue with my the company were I worked because of the hours I spend waiting to start loading or unloading. I have always driven bulk tankers with an air-compressor on the tractor. As the driver I was of course required to oversee the loading and off loading, this to maintain the right air pressure in the tank. But before this all could start, very often the customer (mostly the large chemical plants) let the truck wait for hours.
    Sometimes the excuse was “sorry mate, the product is not yet ready”, or ” give us some time so we can empty the silo in which you can blow the product”. Spending 5 to 6 hours in a plant just to get loaded was not unusual.
    Often when the truck arrived at the factory to unload, the whole process started in reverse. Get a sample for the lab, then wait a few hours for the result, and then, (if luck was with you), you could start emptying your tank. On average 25 or more hours per month were lost like this. I know when you own the truck and you loose time in this way it is lost revenue, but when one is a company driver (like I was), I also lost income. I have always like my job, otherwise I would have never started it, but being kept like the moron of the year in some factory because the customer has other priorities is another story. The trucking company is afraid to complain because it may loose a customer, but in the end the driver, O/O or company driver, pays the bill.
    By the way, I was an international driver in Europe for one of the larger transport companies in the Netherlands.

  • Mark Y

    Just look at these major shippers yearly profits in the hundreds of millions and you cant recieve compensation for your time! Im sure they invented the phrase Keep On Truckin!!

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