The scrum over mandatory detention pay

| May 30, 2014

Though the provision for reforming driver compensation practices by requiring carriers to pay a minimum hourly wage for driver detention was not included in the first Congressional draft of a highway bill out of the chute, following the Obama administration’s nod to the notion in its own draft bill language, debate has intensified among owner-operators and small fleet owners over just whether the federal government ought to be involved in detention at all. 


Bill could require carriers to pay drivers for detention time

The Obama administration's highway bill provisions include driver compensation reform, including a requirement that carriers pay drivers for time spent on-duty but not driving.

Commenting over on the Overdrive’s Trucking Pro LinkedIn group and highlighted in part in this piece, owner-operator William McKelvie worried that a mandate for a minimum wage for detention would cut down the considerably higher rates he’s already getting, as did others like Chattanooga, Tenn.-based small fleet owner Michael Goodman. ” I suggest that any carrier who continually allows shippers to use their trucks to sit without proper compensation should stop doing business with those shippers,” Goodman wrote. “That would have more impact than anything the feds can do. I don’t need or want the government to get more involved in my business. All it would do is cost carriers revenue and expand an already bloated government agency. That will result in yet another tax to pay for the oversight.”


POLL: Would you support a detention-pay mandate?

Following the Obama administration's inclusion of a mandate for detention pay equal to or greater than the minimum wage in its draft highway bill, this ...

In some ways mirroring such viewpoints over on the Team Run Smart site was Overdrive 2007 Owner-Operator of the Year Henry Albert, longtime independent and former small fleet owner. In this blog post, Albert makes a nuanced argument for detention’s current status as a business decision. He describes, like Goodman, making the decision to not do business with a shipper after getting hit by long, inadquately compensated load/unload periods:  


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

A reader sees a need for mandatory detention pay to protect the small business trucking life from the continuing encroachment of big-business competition and government ...

Not every business decision is a profitable one.

I, like every driver, want to be compensated for all my time. I look at this issue in much the same manner as when fuel prices increased rapidly. Due to market forces, carriers quickly added fuel surcharges to their rates. This makes me think about the much-hated electronic logging device. Could this device shift the market forces to finally put a value on a driver’s time? Read Albert’s full argument here.


Driver shortage: An economist and a recruiter ’round the bar

Owner-operator Jeff Clark, blogging as part of Freightliner's new Team Run Smart initiative, breaks down the driver shortage issue in a crafty way: "An economist ...

He was responding there in part to owner-operator Jeff Clark, who is on the contrary passionate about the need for a mandated minimum in detention pay, regardless of market forces. Read his full “Case for mandatory detention pay” here, which in part stems from the notion that “when something of value is free it will eventually be wasted. When anything of value is wasted, overall efficiency is sacrificed.” 

Asked to respond to criticism from other operators on grounds that putting the mandate for detention pay on carriers just adds another stress to small businesses in an already over-regulated/stressed environment, Clark acknowledges the “controversial” nature of his stand. “It is the nature of the trucker to want to be left alone,” he says, to see “all government regulation” as a negative. “We are used to government regulating against us.”

But, he adds, the current state of affairs on detention “harms small-business truckers more than the mega-carriers. The small-business trucker is more apt to deal with a shipper one time. If that shipper detains that driver a long time it is difficult for that driver to collect detention. Making it a civil penalty to not pay detention would make it easier to collect. The small-business trucker may never go back [to the shipper] again. I wouldn’t. The problem for us small-business truckers is the number of small-business truckers. A bad shipper has enough carriers to use a different carrier every day for eternity.”

What do you think? Drop a comment below or vote in Overdrive‘s poll probing opinion on the subject of mandatory detention pay

Find more on the issue in Overdrive’s 2013 “Attention to detention” feature series. 

  • guest

    They all just laugh at the Truck Driver….he can wait forever as far as these 3 piece suit jackasses are concerned….they have to drive their BMW to the Golf Cours/Country Club…..not concerned about no trucker you can BET on that….LIP service is all we will every receive…no money just jive and a HARD TIME!!! lol

  • Jeremy Smith

    The company owners already charge detent pay. The reason they dont want laws are….because they may charge the customer 50 an hour and give the drive 5-10 AFTER the driver already sits for 2-3 hours. This is common. They dont want to be forced to give an equitable amount of that to the driver. I see a lot of “for the driver” rules and laws coming that these companies are fighting. People think we make a lot of money. They do not realize that we work 70+ hours a week for it. The more we sit….the harder, and longer, we have to push to make up for it. It is about time that we are paid the money that we earn. This industry has treated us all like farm help for to long!!

  • Douglas

    Hasn’t any one noticed that the more the corrupt government gets involved, the more bloated it gets a the while trying to get the agency’s to force more laws on us?

  • gearjamn

    They need to enforce detention at the source of the problem SHIPPERS and RECIEVERS. They need to be made to pay not the carriers. I mean I am a small carrier if I get detention I pass it too the driver. But when your not paid detention and the rates suck after the low life brokers give you piss dribbles from the sweat of their balls. Leaves you struggling. It is not like I ever said hey let my driver sit on the dock just for giggles to see how mad we can make him and how broke I can go with the truck sitting. Make the source of the problems PAY otherwise they will keep drivers at the docks forever knowing they do NOT have to pay a penny in detention that the carrier who is not the cause of the problems will……… think about…. it that is what will happen if carriers have to pay and not shippers and receivers…. if there is no incentive and it costs them nothing to leave that truck sitting drivers will grow roots there

  • Phillip

    I before E except after C. You are a business owner?

  • Ron

    I rarely have problem with detention unless it involves lumpers. The lumpers I dealt with tonight made $65 an hour for the five hours I sat in the dock. They should be the ones to give up money when you’re kept beyond the two hour limit.

  • AMR10

    I think it’s curious most of the focus is still on carriers and not DRIVERS, make the Shippers and Receivers pay, AND force the carrier to pass it through to the driver, after all, it’s the drivers clock running down, NOT the carriers….not doing business with a particular Shipper or Receiver is NEVER a company drivers option….

  • Thomas Duncan

    Will someone please tell me of any dawned thing the Feds have got involved in any where any time that got better for ANYBODY? You suckered that like these ideas have a great time.I like many truckers will have to leave…compliance my a*&

  • Thomas Duncan

    You are falling for it bud.Your customers are not your enemy.Those people you speak of are the reason you have a job.You have only yourself to blame if you have a job you are unhappy with or can not accept.Stop falling for the practice of class envy

  • TexasEskimo

    Unless your talking Budweiser.

  • Don’t feed us shit

    I also believe that the shipper/receiver should pay, but the driver should get paid no matter what. Your not gonna ask a dock worker to wait 2 or 3 hours before they go home for free. Also

  • Don’t feed us shit

    When you hire a person to work you should be able to pay them period. I guess it is one choice to work for a fly by night company, that only worries about their pocket books. I will not. If a company is running so close to the red it won’t be long before it is bankrupt. We all know it’s the truth. So go ahead and look for another job

  • mikebech

    We as drivers should be paid for every hour we are away from home .

  • Del Ray Johnson

    The poor, pathetic, un-educated, under-educated drivers who need the government to help them and what is next wipe their noses Obama(Care) gives you $7.25 detention! Like I said the “modest” detention is $65 per hour no exceptions. This is how things work in America Capitalism, free market society drivers, carriers, and shippers have a CONTRACT long ago WE should have tallied up the lost time and filed a lawsuit seeking $100,000,000.00 in damages against pick a trucking company! This would no longer be a topic of concern fyi this means nothing to trucking companies they will find a way around it you will quit go to another company and the cycle continues. Finally, pilots, police officers, plumbers, electricians, etc. do not need legislation for payment of their ALL time.

  • William McKelvie

    Leave it to Jeff Clark to give a push towards government involvement. It’s unfortunate that when you bow down to sponsors, the rest of your presence in the industry goes the way of becoming popular by selling your fellow truckers short. Who amongst us cannot see that if big G gets involved they will drop the rates we get now, which are less than previous years I should add, won’t drop to minimum wage rates? Foxx already attempted that in the last highway bill. Some folks need to think about their sponsorships versus coming across as a sell out.

  • quickphil

    The less Government the better ! The only one who can stand up for you is yourself ! If you are willing to sit around for free then ? They will let you . I get tired of reading on these pages from drivers and O/Os talking about OOIDA selling them out ! Their has no one but yourself that has sold you out ! You haven’t taken the time to get to know who your Congress person and two Senators are and let them know how you feel about things ! And believe me they know this ! Prime example of this is the recent comment periods on E-Logs ! The first one 750 people commented out of 2.5 or more CDL holders then you want to blame someone for your non interest the same thing applies here ! If you don’t stand up for yourself no one else is .

  • Cwbintennessee Michael Winton

    As long as i get more money to my trucks and my drivers are compensated, then that is all i’m worried about. They deserve paid for their time.

  • Nick Lane

    Wow what UNION WAS THAT . IT’S ALL SCREWED UP FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM. Everyone eats off our backside. I need some new shirts

  • martymarsh

    So as long as he can eat, after all he can live in his truck, he doesn’t have a bitch. Hell will freeze over before I ever recognize or be thankful to people that gave me a job that keeps me broke. It is obvious what side of the street you are working. Then you make it sound like there are so many good paying jobs out there. He is not the problem, the industry is the problem. This shit didn’t just start yesterday and the problem is nation wide and you blaming the individual is not going to change a thing.

  • martymarsh

    The industry is so over regulated that they may well regulate the money as well.

  • martymarsh

    You know the old saying, don’t haul cheap freight.

  • martymarsh

    That is the point, we are already over regulated, so let them regulate the money also.

  • Deborah L

    I find it amazing places that load meat loads cannot figure out the time frame as to when a load will be ready to be loaded. I think these are some of the worst wait times around. Of course the drivers are the ones who get to suffer. If a mandatory detention was charged, it would help out some with the price of free sitting. And remember there are a lot of places out there who charge fees if you are late getting to them.

  • txjayce

    How about stop hauling for customers that will not pay detention. I can see what I’m looking at is a bunch of complaints from glorified company drivers. get your own damned truck and STOP HAULING CHEAP FREIGHT!

  • txjayce

    How about stop hauling for customers that will not pay detention. I can see what I’m looking at is a bunch of complaints from glorified company drivers. get your own damned truck and STOP HAULING CHEAP FREIGHT!!

  • Don’t feed us shit

    Yes I have health insurance, 4O1k, dental, profit sharing, 11 paid holidays, 5personal days, 2weeks vacation, no truck payment, and still want paid for the first 2 hours of wait time, nobody owns anyone, therefor should pay their drivers for all wait time.

    Oh we also make .592 cent a mile. Still want paid for all my time. Glorified company driver.

  • Diesel Mike

    “Stop falling for the pratice of class envy” a douch bag snob statement if ever I heard one. Get off your high horse… F’ing yuppie

  • Pingback: Many sides of truckings' mandatory detention pay dispute | Ask The Trucker

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    When customers (shareholders and business owners) pick your pocket in order to line their own, I suppose drivers should also lick their shoes clean for them, too.

    After all, they are our betters and we should be thankful for whatever crumbs they decide we should get.

    Class Envy is what people who likes things as they are say as to those wanting their FAIR SHARE.

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    When the average O/O in this country makes less than 35K a year, some have no business denigrating company drivers whose pay puts their to shame.

    And like you say, *no one* likes working for free. The money that goes unpaid to drivers for time stolen from them just makes another billion-dollar corporation even richer.

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  • Dave Bradley

    Are you one of the 3 piece suities???? You certainly do not sound like a driver. If you are a driver then you must be a VERY recent gradute of a driving school believing all the hype and BS they have feed you.

  • Dave Bradley

    You must not know the regulations very well. Check your handbook, it should be there, or look in title 49 of the CFR, and you will find that line haul drivers cannot be forced to load/unload nor can they be forced to hire/pay for others to load/unload. That is the responsibility of the shipper?receiver.
    If you do pay for swampers/lumpers and don’t get reimbursed for it that is your fault. If you haul for a broker make sure his rate quote contains the reimbursement.
    When that regulation was passed I exercised it many times, which naturally made the brokers and shipper/receivers quite unhappy.
    Quite often I have told shipper/receivers and brokers that if reimbursement was not guaranteed, in writing, that I would pull away from the dock and not deliver the load or release it to someone else.
    It only takes once, sometime twice, to actually pull away from the dock, close your doors and leave the property to get the point across.
    I also made sure my rate quotes ALWAYS covered retention charges of at least $50 after 2 hours (with a minimum charge of 4 hours) for non appointment loads and after 1 hour, with the same minimum, for appointment loads.
    Sure, I had problems in doing this but after showing them the regulations and actually doing what I said I would do most accepted the facts and paid up. Those that did not I would no longer haul for.
    It’s harder for company drivers to do this but O/O’s and small companies can, if they have the balls to carry through.
    Another thing O/O’s and small companies need to enforce is that regulations require payment to be made within 15 days, IF no other credit payment is agreed to. Also that no credit IS to be given for periods past that period to those found not to be credit worthy.
    Drivers have always tended to complain about all types of things unnecessarily. All you have to do is bone up on the current regulations and THEN follow the.
    It’s your truck and small business not the broker, shipper, receiver or any company to whom you may be leased so operate like a business, get some balls and stand up for what is right and use regulations to YOUR benefit, not theirs!!!!

  • ace

    What you get paid for detention pay was part and is STILL part of the negotiations of your employment if you want 30 dollars an hour for detention demand it from your employer.

    I own a 4 truck fleet, my guys get 30 an hour after the first two hours. 20 an hour to the truck for maintenance, fuel, and office.

    The only catch drivers must get in and out times signed on bol.

  • Jeremy Smith

    What you pay is, very generous, and you sound like a decent man from the way you address me/us. But, let me ask you, in what other business is, an employee on YOUR clock and, not being paid for his time? Those 2 hours mean a lot and they add up. The company, I work for, runs mulmulti-stop refer loads. I may have four stops in a day. If, all four, received their product in two hours each. That is 8 hours of my day that, I wasn’t compensated for. If you figure my stop pay, $10 each, then for 8 hours of a day I made, $5 an hour. How, sir, is this right? This is, pretty much, an industry standard. These are the types, of issues, that need to be addressed. This is just one example. I can site more, also. As, I am sure, you can. Like, with the technology available today, why is it most companies pay by, household movers guide still? We also know, without question, the driver is the one, not being compensated fairly with this issue, as well. Since, these are, industry standards, no company is going to take the lead and change the standard. These are labor laws that NEED to be addressed. In my humble opinion.

  • Bo Zane

    Do like i do,if they don’t get the shit off my truck in a reasonable amount of time i tell them i will cut the banding on the material an start kicking it of my flat bed in the works

  • Baskett transport

    I had those problems as a business owner/oo and I did stick up for myself but I still got jacked and my business tanked do to none payment s from both shippers and brokers for 3 years I fought with them in court and still didn’t get paid so what should I do then any insight???

  • Dave Bradley

    lots of insight, 1st if you couldn’t win in court you either didn’t present your case properly or the paperwork presented did not back your claim. Make sure your paperwork, i.e. broker confirmation or b/l clearly states any accessorial charge that may apply such as swampers or retention/detention times, including minimum charges. Then if you have a problem with non-payment warn them after 1st time that if it happens again future shipments WILL be hauled as freight collect and all charges MUST be paid prior to freight leaving trailer. You DO NOT, by law, have to extend credit to brokers/shippers/consignees.

  • Dave Bradley

    payment for detention/retention is the responsibility of those that cause it, i.e. shipper/consignee, not the trucking company or O/O.
    If you are using brokers that “give you piss dribbles”, why do you use them? There are many brokers out there that are fair and prompt on payment as well as detention/swamper charges.
    Here is a novel idea, get rid of the brokers and have your own customer list. A bit of extra work but doable. When I was running my company I seldom used brokers maybe 3 or 4 times a year at most.

  • Dave Bradley

    $20 for a watermelon???? Where do you shop and get ripped off at?? I seldom pay more than about $5 for a good sized watermelon and sometimes less.

  • Doug Cadle

    The law needs to force the company “causing” the detention to pay the carrier so they can pay the driver. Out of 4 or 5 detentions the carrier may only collect on 2. So if he’s going to pay the driver every time, he can’t pay all he gets each time. The ones that pay even out the ones that don’t pay. If you’re a company driver, the bulk of the detention should go to the truck. If you own the truck the bulk of the detention should go to the truck also. The truck is losing more money sitting than the driver.

  • Karl

    Kevin, What is your FAIR share? Are you running your own truck or company truck? Take the risks get the rewards. Rely on others and take what you are given.

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    I run under my own operating authority.

    I am not now nor ever have been willing to give away my labor for free, if I am performing work for myself or an employer I want to be compensated for it.

    And the fair share is the price at which you are willing to value your labor and/or time, taking into consideration what the market will bear.

    “Free” doesn’t even come into that equation, because any time one performs work without compensation another person derives the economic benefit of that contribution.

  • donny

    When i started out, way back in ’97, I always negotiated for half of thhe carrier detention charge. It was as little as $25 or $30 for some shippers, but I got a few notations on the settlement sheet for detention of $70-100 an hour…Usually after the 2nd hour. I must admit that if it had been mandatory for the shippers to pay, I might have made more, but who knows. I retired after 17 years of hauling mostly cold grocery, and frozen food…One of the most detention laden segments to get into back then…I once thought i might go back OTR…but the way the FMCSA is acting now…Probably not…Not a fan of Big Brother watching my EVERY move.

  • donny

    As an O/O who went on to start my own small fleet, detention is ALWAYS part of the contract for services between the shipper and the carrier. I would NEVER leave it up to the shipper to voluntarily pay detention. And I used the QualComm to verify the in/outs that were part of the Signature stamp, I and my drivers put on the BOL’s. So, if a carrier is trying to tell you that they don’t charge detention, call em on their B.S. and ask to see the contract.

  • Ronnie Daggs

    . Personally I feel that $75.oo-$100.oo per hr starting 15 minutes after arrival is a more reasonable rate to charge shippers and receivers, providing that the driver checks in ahead of time. Let’s be real about this…times have changed and equipment, along with new regulations that driver,s are forced to follow. Put the shoe on the foot- of the Companies that are booking loads that sometimes can,t be delivered on time,or picked up on time Force the trucking companies to book freight far in advance and allow for extra time to get there,even if it means the driver has to do a 34 hr restart. The driver does all the work just to get from point A to point B, and has to deal with more unforeseen issues than the brokers or dispatcher,s.I feel that if a driver does his/her job and makes on time pickup & delivery’s that he/she should be given a bonus for EACH time it happens, and if the driver has to set more than 15 minutes they need to be paid 2/3rd,s of the detention as well. I feel that if this happens, it will force companies to be more caring for the driver as well as themselves, and the shpr,s / rcvr,s too. Everybody wins…Now if the driver breaks down or gets sick or cant make the due time,s he / she loses the bonus & detention, A lot of if,s or but,s and each can be dealt with. Just saying how I feel. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.