Channel 19

Todd Dills

The forces at work on detention pay

| August 06, 2012

Detention time at shippers and receivers has dominated my discussions with owner-operators about the day-to-day difficulties of the trucking business since the day I started writing in the pages of Overdrive in 2006. Then as now, the constraints of the 14-hour driving window have made long wait times ever more untenable for operators’ profitability. Good thing is, as evidenced by many carriers’ leased-owner-operator pay packages today, that same constraining 14-hour window has made the argument for charging shippers and receivers for long wait times easier to make.

Further, some owner-operators, such as small fleet owner Thomas Blake, believe the use of EOBRs for hours/vehicle tracking make it even easier to argue for detention pay, while others see the trucking industry’s exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act and the predominate practice of paying per mile as the biggest barrier to achieving full compensation for operators’ time on-duty.  As FMCSA says it continues to conduct research into the problem, all the while it claims lack of authority to regulate shippers and receivers as primary in its inability to do much to address it.

“Cracks me up!” says owner-operator Jeff Clark. “They seem to find the authority for the things they want to do…. If we weren’t constantly churning drivers, market forces would demand [detention compensation].”

If you’ve missed our report this month on the state of compensation for detention, the No. 3 named challenge to owner-operator businesses today, find a portion of it here.

And here’s what sources for the story had to say otherwise:

Owner-operator Clark
It varies from customer to customer for me. We have two customers that I refuse to service because of slow unloads and no detention.

And yes,  I absolutely believe mandatory detention [should be law]. 

Landstar’s Joe Beacom
Landstar and its agents place great effort into pursuing detention pay and compensating its BCOs for detention time. 

Prime’s Don Lacy
“Every second counts” is  a project name applied to our continuing efforts to reduce waiting time. Prime has  long  been a  strong  proponent of billing shippers and receivers when they waste our operators’ time. Obtaining timely approval by the customer is the biggest challenge.

Allen Smith
Regarding his work as a company fuel hauler based in Florida, Smith says, “I personally get compensated somewhat for detention time.”

Detention time however is a major problem for OTR drivers. Not only do they not get paid ( many times) for the hours wasted at loading docks, but the time waiting eats up their clock as well as puts pressure on them for the next load. Since drivers get paid by the mile, waiting at docks is analogous to someone with a nine-to-five being forced to take a few hours a day off without pay, then expected to make up the work they lost. Many times this cuts into their mandated break to rest. Talk about safety and truck driver fatigue! I would think the safety groups would be all over this, but why not? All they can focus on is the driver.

If the FMCSA has “no authority” to impose national rules for detention [on shippers and receivers], then why not put it in the [multiyear transportation reauthorization] just as EOBRs have been? 

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  • Mike Jones

    If company drivers were paid hourly they are not concerned about the 14 hour rule and the 11hour rule…they are not in an UNSAFE RUSH…because they are getting PAID regardless if the shipper is efficinet or not…….

  • Mike Jones

    make that efficient….

  • Mike Jones

    Company driver is not concerned when cops pull him in for Inspection..if he is paid by the HOUR….sure cops..take all day!

  • Mike Jones

    They have alot of balls to put a picture of Western Express on this page…They have several Alerts on their CSA FILE and only a MORON would work there and beg cops to Inspect them..they are clearly on the D.O.T Red Flag Inspect Now list…what a sick joke….how hilarious……

  • BunniRabbyt

    I have screamed and screamed for years and years that truck drivers should be paid by the hour. The many problems it would solve. I wrote 17 pages to OOIDA about this and I recieved less than a half page back stating Washington”s climate wanst ready to hear such a thing. Well they are never ready to hear reality. OOIDA made up of mostly O/O dont see the need since they would still be on the old pay scale. What they dont realize is all these cut throat big box companys are going to have to raise their rates and charge mandatory detention when they have to pay a driver for every minute. Thus in turn rates would go up for O/O. And No you wont get drivers to work for minimum wage either. Dont sound like rocket science to me but they sure make it out to be. I am Happily retired after 41 years but still suffering from trucking PTSD just cant get all this out of my head

  • Jim

    I have stated for along time that all drivers be paid by the hour. Time and a half over 40 hrs. a week and paid for all hours worked or logged on the 14 hr. clock.
    It eliminates the incentive drivers have to violate the HOS due to delays by customers, traffic , etc. It eliminates the incentive to speed. It will help keep driver’s healthier by eliminating some of the stresses that percentage and mileage drivers face on a day to day basis just to barely make a living.
    So Mr. Executive, Let’s look at this issue on a financial basis. Lower insurance costs due to less accidents, lower health insurance premiums , better driver retention, better customer service, less workman’s comp. claims, ( lowering costs) . Paying by the hour puts trucking companies on a more even playing field and the good will survive and prosper. Better public safety, better, more predictable service, less equipment maintenance, healthier drivers, and the list goes on.
    This forces managers to actually manage , and puts both shippers and receivers in a position to be more efficient in getting trucks loaded and unloaded or pay the price.
    Call a plumber and tell him to wait at your door for two hours before letting him in to do his work and see if you don’t get a bill for ALL of his time…
    What makes a PROFESSIONAL DRIVER any different ?
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