Taking Their Lumps
Freight Handlers Inc. also offers benefits, which Flint says surprises most drivers. “We get a lot of questions about that,” he says. “Some people are surprised that we have health benefits.”
Freight handlers who work for such services also get something independent lumpers traditionally have lacked: workers’ compensation insurance. Unfortunately for drivers and carriers, that’s also one of the reasons the cost of freight services have been going up in price. Nationally, workers’ compensation insurance premiums are on the rise. Trucking companies are feeling the pinch with their insurance carriers, and so are loading and warehousing companies.
Still, the service is worth it for carriers who want to turn around freight quickly. Flint says 90 percent of his loads are turned in less than two hours.
When Flint started at his location 10 years ago, drivers were leery of the new company. But those drivers have gotten to appreciate the company’s approach. “There are still some of them who come in here who are surprised, but they’re happy that it’s an organized operation in here. They don’t have to haggle over price.”
Drivers can still unload themselves, and they can use powered equipment as long as they are licensed. Otherwise they can use manual pallet jacks or hire a loader.
At those warehouses that use professional services, the level of organization has eliminated most of the arguments between handlers and drivers. The only aggravation Flint ever experiences is when drivers borrow his forklift. “The ones that unload it themselves with the equipment and are slow,” he says. “That ties up the equipment and hinders us from doing our job. But that’s the only thing that bothers me.”