Treating truckers as second-class: Fleets advised not to do so at retention conference

| January 31, 2014

With driver turnover bumping or topping 100 percent each quarter in the last several years, driver retention is a hot topic among fleet managers and executives, all seeking ways they can keep drivers from jumping ship to either leave the industry or drive for another carrier. 


Panel: Paying drivers by hour would be ‘suicide,’ driver pay raise looming

Fleets should be reluctant to abandon paying drivers by the mile, according to a panel of fleet managers, but driver pay is looming.

Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills attended the ACS/TCA annual Recruiting and Retention Conference held in Nashville this week, where speakers gave advice to fleets on how they can do a better job of keeping their drivers happy and on their payroll. 

Of interest to owner-operators and drivers may be this tip from one of the presentations: Don’t make drivers feel like second-class employees.

John Elliott, CEO of Load One, said companies need to avoid a culture that creates a “two-class system,” in which drivers are essentially a different group of folks from the office staff. That type of system can create an “us against them” mentality with drivers and the rest of the company, Elliott said.

Elliott gave examples of things like signs that read NO DRIVERS BEYOND THIS POINT posted at fleets. Open offices, he said, can change the perception (and relaity) for drivers. 

Social media, too, can help break down the perception of a “two-tier system,” Elliot said. 

Dills has a full write-up on OD sister site CCJ. Click here to read it.

What’s the culture like at your company? Drop a comment below.

  • LandShark

    Heh heh. I bet CRST didn’t have a rep present at that show. Second class citizen would be a definite bump up the chain from ‘indentured servant’ treatment of drivers at CRST.

  • Kast55

    Yeah, Elliot is 100% correct in that the drivers are put in another building way down the yard. In top of that for you to get to the main building where the office staff is located you have to pass thru a gate with a card reader,, just like when you go to your room in a hotel.
    Yeah, defenitily you feel like they do not want to see your face in the place.

  • Brad

    The office staff doesn’t want the truck drivers close to them. If they showered once in a while it may change. Most truckers are loud, rude, smelly and have no lack of intelligence with their speech. Imagine a customer service representative talking on the phone to an unhappy customer where some truck driver showed up late for their delivery or disrespecting them and then these same truck drivers are in a room close to the office staff yelling and swearing. That would be good for business. What do they expect!

  • James

    The places I’ve seen that retain their drivers well,as they said,have an “open door” policy and keep in mind that these drivers are people just like them,just working a different department. Treat the drivers better and they’ll likely try harder to be presentable when they go into the offices. You have to give to get,right? I’m not sure if all truckers are like this,but the drivers I know would be the first to escort an intentionally offensive driver out of the building,giving him a lesson on common courtesy as they walked. Once drivers have the trust and respect of the management and the office people,the drivers won’t want some jackass slob ruining it for ’em.

  • boshores

    I would like to add that truck drivers are hard working men and women that are no different as a group than any other group of people and deserve respect. In any group you have people that are loud, rude, smelly and talk bad. Including office personnel, Brad. Without truck drivers there would be no office staff. Most of the truck drivers I know are respectful of other people. We go to church, have families, wives and husbands, children and grand children, homes, bills, hold positions and participate in the communities and schools, etc. just like people who do not drive trucks. Give truck drives the respect they deserve and we will give you the respect you deserve. Thank You!

  • Richard

    you see this is the problem, you generalize this opinion about ALL truckers automatically. just the way a lot of truckers have a lot of opinions about you that may not be true. but because youre office staff, they make the assumption. on the road, ive always been one to shower regularly, i get loads on time unless its weather prohibiting or if the load was dispatched very late to me which is out of my hands but guess who would automatically get blamed for that… the driver.. every time. a lot of dispatchers telling drivers at some companies to run illegal just to get the load there… its not their job and license on the line so they dont care.. see? generalizations, stereotypes… are all dispatches like that? no… as a driver, ive always been a respectful person (unless someone messes with me or disrespects me first), im not rude.. and guess what.. ive got a college degree, i drive cause i ENJOY the work, and i love to travel and i got nothing at home tying me down. if we want to solve this problem, stereotypical assumptions of the other persons job, and who the person is, needs to STOP… thats the first step. separation needs to stop. both driver and office staff work for the same company with 1 common goal, make the company money so they can collect their own cut of it. if the company fails as a whole because theres no money, guess what… NO FREAKIN JOB!!! guess what happens if you dont have office staff? you dont get loads, you dont get dispatched, pay doesnt get handled, problems dont get handled.. so office staff is very needed and very under appreciated. but.. what happens if you dont have truckers? again.. NO BUSINESS… both positions have a major roll in the business that both relate directly with each other. if anything its upper management that should treat BOTH positions with a lot more respect and stop screwing them over, office staff gets screwed over a lot as well. so …. since both office staff and truckers get screwed over so much, how about.. those to positions do the intelligent thing and stop being so against each other, and cooperate with each other to try and work things out nicely. makes each others job a lot better.

  • John Scott

    Even Owner Operator companies treat the truck driver as a second class part of the company. As long as companies can fill seats or keep enough trucks moving in their fleet. They won’t be so concerned with retention. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. If companies were the least bit concerned we would not see 100% turnover.

  • mousekiller

    I disagree Brad. it is not MOST truckers. It is the few because they are the ones that get your attention. It just takes one smelly or foul mouth driver to tarnish all of our images. Not just the one doing the less than professional actions to get things changed. Most is not correct.. It doesn’t take a lot to teach ignorant drivers. Just simply go tell them politely one time to keep the profanity down and hold the noise down. I know it works because I have had to do it a time or two. The mentality of some is that to keep up pretenses they think they have to cuss and act tough to FIT IN. Not so. Give them the choice in certain conditions they will get respect and give it. There are a few hard headed steering wheel holders that will eventually get weeded out.

  • mousekiller

    “”Give truck drives the respect they deserve and we will give you the respect you deserve. Thank You!”” Unfortunately that is not going to happen until the drivers give themselves respect. It is a two way street ,but the office or corporate sector is not going to be the first to make the move. Look around you. Hundreds of carriers hire anyone that can get the truck moving without hitting the gate. The drivers FIRST have to present them selves in such a manner as to make the management team want to include them in the inner sanctum. To want to treat them like first class. To make them want to unlock the door . These drivers need to pull up their pants, get rid of the wife beaters T shirt. Put on real shoes instead of shower clogs. To shower a bit more often . You get a shower with each fill up so no cost to them. To actually try to talk with out the F bomb every other word. Until we, the professional drivers teach, demonstrate and show it is profitable, the second class driver will always be second class giving us professionals the black eye. We have to do our share instead of bitching and complaining. .We need to teach by example. When was the last time a dispatcher said please or thank you to you and really meant it?

  • Edmund

    Let all driver go to Washington, D.C. With our rigs and shut the city down just for a day 34 hours with two 1 to 5 am and let’s see what happen
    Drivers in Europe do it to let their voices heard.

  • hello

    I sure can tell the age of the people replying to this. I started out as a very young boy in the trucking industry, my parents owned trucks at different times and my dad always drove truck at the least. I even owned a truck when I was a young man I always thought that was what I wanted to be you got to travel around the country, people treated you with respect, and you wasn’t nickeled and dimed by every tom dick and harry. Then along came the CDL and the people that were so well respected said to hell with it and at that point the change started. ( don’t get me wrong I know that their are still some great people in the trucking industry) The government got what they asked for and continue to this day to get more. The sad part is the entire trucking industry has done nothing to stop it and if you look real close they drivers continue to help it get worse. Go find an old trucker and listen to them for a while you will learn a lot, when you cannot even raise your hand to say hi to a fellow driver are you that lazy or ignorant, when someone is broke on the side of the road move over, If the scale house sets up just to hassle people then park and shut them down, Drive your allotted hours and park wear you are, Quit pulling out in front of people, get those idiots on shipping wars off TV, So in short have some respect for yourself first and most of the time the respect that is asked for will come. I have listen to people talk for 30 years about a truck strike and have even been through a few and guess what not a one has ever done a thing. If you wish to change things then you will need to learn to appreciate each other, have a little respect for each other, and above all learn to stick together. You will never win it as one battle you will need to start with individual battles or states.

  • mousekiller

    I agree. If the drivers don’t do their job NOBODY gets paid . The company owners of less than stellar companies don’t really care about first or second class. They have a steady stream of applicants banging on their doors . Filing the seats with warm butts is how they operate. but, due to these carriers the FMCSA shutting some down.. This action may wake up some less than quality carriers large and small to toe the line, appreciate the driver that they put the life of their company on. Until the drivers do their job safely no one get paid. When the carrier gets paid then the employees get paid. Drivers are an integral part of this complex system of trucking. With out drivers the trucks stop, and so does the income of every one involved.

  • Jason Dick

    Mousekiller I love that name. I am a driver and have been for a few months short of 20 years. Prior to that I was a winch truck swamper.
    I agree to a point with you about the respect thing, but something had to happen in those companies to segregate drivers from office staff. So rather than chastise Brad for the truth why not get upset at the greasy, stinky, foul mouth, Piss Bottle leaving jack-asses in our industry. We’ve done it to our-selves. Now I’m not that way and I’m sure you aren’t either those above mentioned would not be welcome in my house (drooling all over my wife and daughters talking nasty even 1 slip of the toungue is uncalled for) nor my office you know it and so do I.

  • richie C

    Imigine that…..a trashy phone bank operater who will demonize a working person to save their status as king or queen of the trailer park…

  • Richie C

    Brad is one of those in the office who smooze with the other lowlives at shippers….feeling he is the upper cast (they realy dont care if he lives or dies this afternoon as long as their freight moves for almost nothing). Im sure brad has never screwed up and Im also sure that anything thats ever been screwed up is a drivers fault according to Brad. Brad….you need three weeks in the drivers world…with intsructions spit at you from a qualcom…filthy third world facilitys….while trying to do the impossible for the ignorant.

  • RichieC

    Amen My Brother

  • RichieC

    so….. let me understand…..truck drivers cant controll themselves….
    When in the locker room…expect locker talk. Would you take your daughter with you to your factory locker room? Than why would you do it as a trucker with the CB…or any other way. The simple fact it….the office staff oggles over your wife…..and daughter in the same way. Now lets talk of smell. Its hot and dusty in the pipe yard…and you sweat. Sweat makes smell. We cant all go from truck stop to truck stop in a constant state of washing our butts. I have been in offices the slell like kaka. Bathrooms in the inner sanctum the stink like rotten bukala. This in an environment where the trucking co staff has full ability to controll their collective, accumulitated filth. You see, its not the job…its the person who is the slob.

  • Jason Dick

    Now tell me how you feel about the piss bottles. You made yourself chrystal clear on everything else.

  • Bruce at 1600 Watch

    There are good companies out there for drivers to work for (I’m pretty sure), but with most companies today, drivers don’t think they are second class citizens – they are second class citizens. Usually, the companies having the most signs and banners propagandizing and paying lip service to “safety” and “driver’s first” are the worse cases. Companies that actually respect the drivers who generate the corporate income don’t need the silly signs.

  • CA dreamin’

    No lack of intelligence did you say? Mmm, so your saying they do NOT lack intelligence? I love it when people who know nothing about trucking try to sound intelligent. Spend a day with a trucker and you’d see a very different picture. Shippers who act like they don’t want your load, letting you sit on the dock and wait while they stand around chit chatting. Trying to deliver your load within your log book hours, and receiving hours. oh and remembering to take the stupid 30 minute break. Showers costing $10.00 a piece, getting ripped off by truck stops, being harassed by commercial cops. Oh, and the wonderful micro-managing brokers who want to know where you are at all times. Not seeing your family for weeks. It’s a very hard job. What about the foul mouth fork lift drivers? Or the bitchy office women?

  • Jason Dick

    I reread this article again to see what I may or may not have missed, and I’m going to make one more comment about this article and then let it go.
    I was trying to put myself in the place of a driver who got his feelings hurt being treated as though he wasn’t worthy. But I just can’t do it. Why? because I don’t hang around the terminals. I book my freight over the phone or lap top. I keep my wheels rolling to make money and when my wheels aren’t rolling I am going home, fishing, drag racing, or suds and buds. The office personel are not my friends however I am friendly. We don’t hangout after hours. Simply put we are only work related acquaintences. Nowadays we have trippak, fedex, Ups for paperwork delivery. No reason to even be in the office.
    So what driver hangsout at the terminals, and why… to try and make friends? Just a convenient place waiting on a load. My office aquaintences better be dillegently looking for me another load. That’s all I want is more freight and more money. As for me the respect for me comes at the end of the week, month,or settlement, when I turn the truck off, get out and am greeted by my wife and kids. And the weekend begins

  • Mind Games

    This culture of us vs them was and to this day created by lawyers and the atmosphere of greed created by those in the industry that chooses not to be transparent about what a load truly pays and or the cost of moving loads and thus we have what we have.
    One group that’s treated like porters while the other group is treated like the elite one group is paid quite well dress up in nice suits while he other has to dress down in order to get the dirty work done and or hold down the cost making some CEO feel real good at the end of the day.
    I worked at a company that became transparent about what went into moving loads and by that they told us what a typical load paid and cost per mile to move and they did not lose one driver.
    It may have helped many to reduce their idle time because we really loved that company that fell due to internal corruption at the office level not due to drivers.
    Everyone is so scared that drivers are stealing when its usually in the office if not ye CEO himself that causes companies to fall and if you think it ain’t still happening let’s get the boys that carry those guns around Wall Street to open some of the books of these large trucking companies and I’m willing to bet some money is being shuffled around to accounts they are not supposed to be.
    But see we old shoe shine boys ain’t supposed to know or think like that about our corporate masters…. Yea right!!!
    Where’s a good greedy liberal in DC who wouldn’t mind cleaning the clocks of some of these fat cats when ya need one??? Oh that’s right they’re on the take too! Nevermind!!!

  • Shawn McConniel

    I own trucking company my drivers are family they have a name not a truck number. There worries are my worries. My drivers once on board do not leave. Family sticks together and helps one another the all might dollar is not number 1 family is.

  • mousekiller

    If that is the case then guest has never worked for a class A carrier. If a driver applicant only puts their best foot forward at the orientation then they are the second class driver. If they don’t research a carrier before going to work for them then what they do is their fault for being treated as a 2nd class driver… Point ++ NOT ALL O/O companies are bad or even close to bad. If I was to start a freight company it would be mostly O/O. I would not have any of the financial responsibility for their trucks. MY % would be my blessing…
    The mistake many drivers make in hiring on is == They are close to where I live.Is that due to them being a job hopper, Or, They offered me a new Pete. They furnished a CB. there is an inverter in the truck.. Very few look past the steering wheel. Such as medical, retirement, and if there is company matching $. Time off, How raises are paid or earned.
    Vacation time earned or how and when it is taken. Detention pay. Layover.Are motels paid if truck is in shop. 90 percent of new drivers to a carrier DO NOT READ THE DRIVERS HAND BOOK given to them at orientation. Then get pissed and jump ship due to their own stupidity and they blame the dispatcher for not getting paid for something. .

  • Truckertwotimes

    Don’t forget overpopulation. The statistics of bi products of sex has went from just under 4.5 billion in 1980 to over 7 billion in 2011 and there are still the same amount of roads except for some added 4 wheeler only lanes, the stress of trying to drive in a unit train type situation from ALL directions is enough to cause retention problems just for starters.

  • localnet

    I personally am leased on with a great little outfit out of Maumee OH. Open door policy, and am treated as I treat the guys and gals in the office. I told the owner if things continue on as they are, I will retire here. For once in quite a while I am actually enjoying this industry and the pay. Especially as they let me pick my area to run and do not force loads on me. I now actually look forward to going to work! strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.