Bill could require carriers to pay drivers for detention time

| April 30, 2014
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The Obama administration is asking for mandatory detention pay at a rate of at least minimum wage.

Could driver pay reform and a resolution to require unpaid detention time at shippers and receivers make its way into the next highway bill?

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If the Obama administration’s bill, released this week,  becomes law, then drivers may be able to get paid at least the federal minimum wage for on-duty time spent not driving. 

The Obama administration — specifically, the Department of Transportation and Secretary Anthony Foxx — was the first to the table this year with a highway reauthorization bill. Foxx unveiled the full text of the bill this week and announced plans to send it to Congress. 

The Grow America Act’s length and amount have been known for some time, as President Obama announced his plan for pro-growth business tax reform as means to fund a four-year, $302 billion spending bill in February. The plan was also the subject of a recent bus tour by Foxx, who visited locations in eight states to push the plan and urge citizens to contact their members of Congress to tell them to get to work on a highway bill. 

The bill is far from becoming law. It still must pass the Senate and the House to be enacted, which is a tall order, especially in the Republican-controlled House. But it does bring some interesting truck-related issues to the table. 

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Reforming employee-driver compensation by removing the FLSA overtime exemption was among top recommendations, likewise expanding truck-parking availability, sleep apnea, further New Entrant attention and more.

Chief among the bill’s provisions for truck operators is its driver compensation reform. If passed, it would allow the DOT to require carriers to pay drivers for time spent on-duty but not driving, such as time detained at shippers and receivers. Compensation for this time would be “at no less than the federal minimum wage,” according to the DOT’s analysis of the bill, released alongside the bill’s text April 29. 

Unpaid detention time “often results in pressure for drivers to drive beyond the federal hours of service limits, as a matter of economic necessity, risking driver fatigue and jeopardizing highway safety,” the analysis reads. 

The requirement, however, appears to apply only to carriers and company drivers, not owner-operators, shippers or receivers, so the measure wouldn’t necessarily affect detention pay for owner-operators. 

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the measures to pay drivers for detention time, but it says any legislation should ensure “that all truck drivers are compensated for all of their on-duty time.”

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Other provisions in the DOT’s bill

New Entrant Audits: The Grow America bill builds upon the MAP-21 requirement that FMCSA implement new training and testing procedures for “new entrants,” that is, first-time carriers and brokers applying for authority. The bill would allow FMCSA to change the way it audits new carriers, allowing the agency to audit where it deems it would get the most safety value. 

Electronic logging device recall actions: The bill gives some regulatory authority to FMCSA over ELD providers, allowing the agency to require ELD providers to send recall notices to purchasers if necessary. 

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Replacing the Highway Trust Fund: The bill would do away with the Highway Trust Fund and replace it with a similar Transportation Trust Fund. It would be funded with revenue from business tax reform, along with the taxes already collected for the Highway Trust Fund, like fuel taxes. 

Tolling: As covered in Overdrive‘s April 29 article about the bill’s announcement, Grow America would allow states to toll existing Interstate lanes as a means to bolster highway reconstruction spending. Tolling of existing Interstate lanes is currently prohibited by federal law. The bill analysis says that tolling implementation would have to be approved by the DOT. Trucking groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations, along with groups like Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, blasted the bill for its tolling provisions. 

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer says his group “would advise Congress to refrain from advancing negative provisions in the proposal, including those that would create a patchwork of state-controlled roads,” referencing the bill’s tolling language. 

Click here to see Overdrive coverage of the bill’s April 29 release. 

  • jan johnson

    Us food service is bad about leaving drivers in waiting 8/14

  • me

    Drivers, I respect your frustrations, however, after ONLY 2 years out here, having never driven for one of these “training companies” as I started out driving a car hauler, I see that a lot of these so called “jerks” are the owner ops, the guys who wanna run 85 down the PA turnpike and will run and 70 mile an hour driver off the road because their time is more important. So, with all due respect, look in the mirror be for calling a group or generation ” a bunch of jerks:. One more thing. 2 flicks of the four ways, or hitting the Interceptor a couple times goes a long way.

  • Owen D Baldwin II

    Here is the problem I see with the pay deal. If you read it, it says for time spent on duty not driving. How many of us log the time at a dock as on duty not driving. Missy of ids that have been out here for a minute know that if you log it like that, you’ll be out of hours in no time at all.

  • red devil

    I think shipper and receivers should have to pay this. Not just the drivers company. This is a way to get rid of the little man leaving only big company’s out here. Think about this. Read it close enough to see what it’s really saying. My daddy was an owner, my husband was an owner. I’m a driver for a small company. All it’s going to do is hurt us more.

  • Camshaft

    When was the last time you saw a train pull up to a WalMart? Any kind of detention pay is better than nothing. I’ve been doing this for 24 yrs, my husband 44 yrs. we’ve had them pay us after the 1st 2 hours. Or give them 12 hrs, Watkins had some kind of cockamamie formula. It was all set up to screw us out of getting paid. I think being a truck driver is the most thankless job out here. No one really gives a rats ass about the truck driver. And the railroad commission and all these bleeding heart groups like MADD are the reason for all these electronic logs and cameras in cabs and all this new fuel crap like the DEF. What we need is a good old fashion TRUCK STRIKE. One that lasts a week. And see what happens to this country. Let’s see the train come to your local grocery

  • sthomas1957

    I just worry that if you, say, overslept and are late for your pickup or delivery time, that they’ll just as surely want to deduct pay from you as well.
    What the Lord surely giveth with one hand he doth not hesitate to take away with the other.

  • sthomas1957

    Most owner/operators I know of who get delayed at a shipper or receiver, if they’re not compensated for their time, will simply refuse to go back there again.
    It’s the company drivers who are treated like dogs because the big carriers can send them into a shipper to baby sit the trailer and wait hours on end for it to get loaded without having to compensate for it. Feel sorry for them, but as an O/O I don’t go back to place if they screw with me once.

  • Karen

    Thank You Paula! I am a small trucking company and I currently pay my drivers 100% of the detention time if we get it from the shippers & receivers. However most of the time we don’t get it because they wont pay the detention. I am still working on getting paid for two detention times for different brokers/shippers and the loads were hauled in the month of May and June and it is currently August. I believe our drivers deserve it, that is why I continue to fight for it.

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