Channel 19

Todd Dills

Modest proposal: $65/hour, fair detention rate to protect small biz

| November 27, 2012

So proposed a commenter in response to my post last week about the Qualcomm presentation on what it called “myths” about electronic onboard recorders. The commenter, an independent owner-operator posting here as “Hammer lane,” made what I thought was a salient argument for a return to some kind of regulated detention pay. Here’s the meat of what was said:

In all the discussion of electronic onboard recorders [EOBRs], I rarely see mention of the days spent at shippers’ and receivers’ facilities loading and unloading. They hurt. Not once have I seen detention pay for being held one, two, three hours or sometimes even more. As a general rule I think it should be capped at one free hour and everything else should be charged a fair rate of $65 per hour.

An advantage that the big carriers have over the small ones is the ability to have a trailer pool, which means a driver doesn’t have to wait to get loaded or unloaded. Having the ability to “drop and hook,” as opposed to waiting to get offloaded or loaded, greatly reduces stress on the driver and company. Small carriers are at a disadvantage, because I don’t think I could swing another $350 trailer payment. Furthermore, I can’t hire someone to haul it to a shipper for me to get it loaded with product….

It’s no secret that, as our recent round-up of voices on the detention-pay issue suggested, the deterioration of driver pay conditions in trucking since early 1980s deregulation has been compounded by tightened restrictions on drivers’ hours and little to no improvement in compensation for detention at shippers’ and receivers’ facilities. Though while a return to regulating certain aspects of pay such as detention may sound favorable to many, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a long-term look under way at the extent of the uncompensated detention problem that could lead in that direction, the hold that deregulatory philosophies have on the big-business climate is a huge barrier. We’ve been down that conversational road here on the blog before, when I reported on the House of Representatives’ small-business committee’s hearing on the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program’s independent-trucking-business effect. Recall what broker Jeff Tucker had to say about the government getting back into the business of price regulation:

I would hesitate going down the road of somehow regulating pricing for trucking. It will be something that industry will rail against. You’ll have the National Association of Manufacturers and every other association screaming — it will be a bloody war… and eventually it will raise prices to all of us.

The explosion of often cutthroat competition in the industry to this day, if “Hammer lane” is correct, however, has led to an untenable situation for small businesses in transportation. EOBRs and further rigidity in the hours of service are the last piece of the equation, and to him they represent no less than a sort of last brick holding up the wall that is his owner-operator business’ viability. Here’s how he concluded his commentary: “Currently, with the way I run my business I am lucky to see a 20 percent profit margin. More realistic numbers show anywhere from 10 to 15 percent. Considering all the issues I just spoke of [detention, the advantages of large carriers] staying the same, after the new hours of service and EOBR mandate become law, I will be lucky to see a zero to 5 percent profit margin. At those margins, I am better off finding another line of work. This is not the way the American life was meant to be.”

  • Kurt Keilhofer

    The use of “free” labor by drivers,and abuse of their time as if it were free, has been an issue since the ICC was dissolved, coincidentally just as they were about to attack the lumper issue. The idea of detention time is fine, but it is only as good as the agreement between the shipper and the carrier, which the cariier will become spineless to enforce, as they fight their way to the bottom with ever cheaper rates and concern of keeping the customer regardless of abuse. The only way to insure that drivers are paid for their time is to federally mandate that drivers be paid for ALL of their time, like every other citizen of this country. This is an issue that both trucking companies and shippers would join together on… fight to their dying breath!

  • Howie

    Could not have said it better myself.I thought slavery ended,can’t understand why we can not make a living out here!

  • Billy S Worthy

    I agree, payment should be made to those who have to “live Load”-Live Unload” espically when they require an appointment time to load or unload. There is no reason for it to take 4-6 hours to unload a palletized trailer. The RCVRS attempt to hold the Drivers accountable for what is or isnt on the trailer, even though we are not allowed to count the load or be on the loading docks. Then if you question the RCVR on the delay, they delay even more.

  • Marty Marsh

    This has actually become a big joke, how many carriers have said you don’t have to worry about any detention just give us the freight? I worked for one company that said you get detention if we get it, you do know what that means?

  • Mike Jones

    Uncompensated…for the driver and truck owner…..Plenty of money for the shipper and receiver…..The rich squashing the poor every chance they get…..drivers are “working Poor” and the rich like it that way….beggar status……

  • Mike Jones

    The wealthy industrialists like things the way they are…after the driver gets ripped off for 5 hours of his time..he can pull in for a LEVEL ONE inspection by THE STATE and heap on some CSA POINTS..raising his insurance rate..and shell out MONEY to the Clip Board carrying Goons!!

  • BigRoad Inc.

    Even though this post was awhile ago it is still very relevant. Detention time is a huge issue and one that drivers and carriers should expect to be paid for. As HOS rules continue to reduce the amount of hours available to drive the industry has to get back to the ‘rules’ of detention time and how much should be paid for excessive detention time. With today’s technology we can easily report, in real-time, arrive and depart times at pick/drop locations. Shippers ultimately pay for excessive detention times in rates or poor service (’cause good drivers and carriers avoid them). Progressive shippers should pay for detention times because it will incent their dock employees to respect the carriers, and they can negotiate lower rates with guaranteed turn around times to carriers looking for better asset/driver utilization. Waiting sucks and takes away productive driving hours.

  • Mike Jones

    Yup…Using electo logs….you will run out of time..the Tattle Tale will drive you to poverty….

  • Mike Jones

    Oh YEA….they will keep you there all night….

  • William McKelvie

    Well just goes to show, eobr doing nothing much for the driver once again, imagine that. And how are you going to get them to pay 65, when they balk at 50 or lower currently.


    It doen’t matter what the rate is the brokers will take the $65 and pay what they want we are the ones at the bottom of the food chain .

  • Luisa A. Nims

    It also shows a lack of respect for drivers time and their value in society.

  • MercenaryMan

    Respect is earned and many companies may mean well but there not there at 3 am when the loads are shipping or waiting in line for three hours and you cant sleep or park, 65 dollars is a base rate but it should go up quickly to 75 for the next hour to 125 to the next hour 250…etc….I cant tell you how many appt times I see come and go….its not Respect we get at those docks…this isnt a rare occurence, Id like to see drivers add this up nationwide, keep track of how many times there late loaded, etc, I bet it would be more then a million times a week, QUICK….What kind of lo$$ in productivity is that to all of us…

  • Certifiably Nutty

    It does, but that is not a new issue…unfortunately.

  • Gerald Wood

    Detention Rates, context must be established before deciding over coffee talk about what fair. How about min. $88.00, then $49.00 every 15 minutes. Researching a point has its merits. The Largest Trucking entities and their detention rates are a quick web search away:
    The LinkedIn has a survey from several Carriers, interestingly all of their rates are considerably more then what your commenters are hand wringing about.

  • Richard Hastings

    Ya’ll know what I think I would have to agree with some one, have the rates regulated by federal standards like the fuel surcharge. Also they need to keep it where they wont pass it onto the consumer, this big jokers are already making a boat load of money off the consumer, I would bet they would not feel the hit except on paper. but it would force the manufactures to enforce better shipping methods to keep from having to shell out money for the loss. I also think that the driver needs to be paid by the hour. Given a title just like any other profession. We are rolling into a regulated era just like any other business, why are we exempt from most laws. want us to drive safe then pay us like other human beings, give us the extra pay that we deserve for being out on that road, I am sure if a company driver is being paid 22.5 dollars an hour for all hours up to 40 hrs a week will back off, even detention pay would not be much of an issue. any time spent pass that to a max of 30 hours Over time making a total of 70 hours should be paid at the same OT rate of time and a half. at 33.75 an hour I am sure the shippers will need to hurry the drivers out then again if not the driver is still getting paid. no matter what, the EBOR that is bing enforced is the time clock system you find at any company that records time. so the hell with the groups that protect the manufactures, they need to pay us like professionals. why do they think they can pay us less than minimum wage. they want drivers then pony up the dough.

  • Easy X

    Everyone seems to want to penalize the carrier for late, not calling, etc. Sometimes $100 to $500. Yet these same entities have no problem paying $0 to $25/hr AFTER two, three or four hours. Even worse, cap a complete day of sitting at $150.

    If the load is scheduled, the detention should start after 15min. If it is a window, detention should start after two hours, at the rate the truck makes while moving.

    Too many times you miss your next load because of the receivers delays. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.