Views: Fair-labor exemption petition, truck driver as DOT secretary

| May 01, 2013
Anthony Foxx

Anthony Foxx

Make a truck driver DOT secretary!
In the wake of President Barack Obama’s nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to replace Ray Lahood as U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Trans Products Trans Service Regulatory Manager Richard Wilson sent along this “thought of the day,” as he called it: “Obamacare is 906 pages with a total of 2,400 or so pages explaining it, and the entire American population, including lawyers, commentators at Fox News and elsewhere, can’t figure it out, have no clue really what, when, where it is all about. But 49 CFR is 6,124 pages and every single truck driver is not only supposed to know it, understand it, and obey it — and now is accountable for it in so many ways!… Truck drivers have got to be the smartest people in the world. Maybe we ought to be running the DOT, not a Mayor from Charlotte!”

Petition to repeal fair-labor exemption for trucking
Dan Heister adjust flatbed landing gearWashington State-based owner-operator Joe Ammons last summer wrote in to Overdrive with a call for assistance from trucking-industry participants in getting a petition started to fix what he and others see as a systemic problem that has been holding down driver pay for going on a century. Namely, the interstate trucking exemption from certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which specifies the 40-hour workweek as well as the 8-hour day and associated regulations. As we wrote accompanying his letter, “It is time, Ammons says, for the industry and its drivers to make an exchange — the chance of time and a half and coming in line with much of the mainstream U.S. workforce on hours in exchange for industrywide EOBRs: ‘I feel it is time to offer up the exchange and make things equal,’ he says. ‘Let the government, the industry and the shopping public know exactly what all this regulation is costing them and us. Maybe as an owner-operator this won’t affect me right away, but it will have an eventual trickle-down in detention time, rates, and lifestyle.'”

Almost a year later, it looks like he’s gotten the help he was looking for. He wrote today to announce that his petition was live:

I’ve started the petition “U.S. Secretary of Transportation: Disallow FLSA exemption for trucking upon order requiring EOBRs” and need your help to get it off the ground.

Here’s why it’s important:

The FLSA exemption for trucking, exempting interstate truck drivers from overtime wages, is as old as the driver daily records (logbook) regulations that have been rewritten in the last few years. 

The exemption was a political move to appease big-business trucking, as they used the claim that when trucks are out on a trip they cannot track a driver’s work and break times to substantiate any kind of hourly pay for non- driving times or track their driving hours in excess of the basic 40-hour workweek. 

…With the requirement for electronic onboard recorders that will track all on-duty hours [the arguments no longer stand].

Inasmuch as the exemption was and is at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation, we hereby petition the Secretary to withdraw that exemption immediately upon the effective date of any rule mandating the installation and use of onboard recording devices and/or electronic driver records.

Agreed? You can sign Ammons’ petition here.

And find more on this issue in these stories:
The forces at work on detention pay
The safety argument for increased pay
Reader: Repeal FLSA trucking exemption
Independent thinking

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  • Patrick

    Signed and shared on Facebook & Twitter..

  • gary d

    when I drove for werner enterprises 13 to 14 hours was the normal work day, usually out 14 days straight. they would go broke if this took effect. that’s 98 hours a week. 58 hours over time in one week would have been great…..

  • bigred

    I was one of the first and have gotten at least 8 non drivers that have signed this petition now. Let`s put this in motion and get signers from everywhere.. It`s time to get big trucking in line, get everyone who is hiring and training and putting unfit drivers on the road to be held responsible also. Isn`t it true they get paid big bucks for this, so they should be able to hire only the best drivers. It was quoted in the “trucker” paper this new ruling would open up 16 thousand trucking jobs. I for one want to know my fellow drivers are the best America can offer,,,,DON`T YOU,,,No. 1, You cannot weed out bad drivers by only inspecting small companies and owner ops and we are being hammered 4 to 1 over the big companies..

  • EF McHenry

    I’m in full agree with Mr. Joe Ammons! He makes sense and should be regarded a hero in one sense for having the balls to do this!
    Large trucking companies would like nothing more than to continue getting unpaid free labor from the driver. They LOVE IT! If fact they can be really creative. Here are some recent transfers of labor and responsibility onto the driver with no increase in pay(In some cases drivers have actually seen a decrease in pay with added work!) Here are some recent transfers and demands by ATA carriers:
    a.)equipment responsibility(i.e. CSA). Under Safe Stat the carrier was solely responsible for the-their-equip. ATA carriers are behind these EOBR-ELD-mandates & CSA.
    b.)in-cab administrative work(fill out&scanning trip envolops/BOL/30mins on per trip). In the past you just put it in a generic tripak envelop and dropped in a yellow box.
    c.)in-cab safety courses(i.e. Pro Tread & other similiar style systems). In the past drivers were routed to a terminal & paid for the duration of the safety class, typically $25.00-$50.00.
    d.)demands to buy and wear expensive safety boot and specific attire with no, or insufficient reimbursement.
    This is not all inclusive
    And ATA carriers understand the economics behind this. But you see Joe Ammons like many drivers are tired of:fueling, insp’g, tarping, dealing with customers. adjusting brakes, making minor fixes on equipment, sweeping trls, washing out tank & reefing trls, being in detention under responsibility of making sure equip is fixed @ Trkstps and other secondary repair places, waiting in the readiness-AWAKE NOT SLEEPING-to get loaded or unloaded, and not get one dime for it!! And I agree!!
    Let me give a very simple explanation why.
    You see “time” like any tangible item or token is a commondity in work. Keep that notion in mind!! Now the last time I checked, the law of supply and demand has not been magically suspended.
    Ok now certain jobs or tasks involve a certain minimun amount of time to accomplish. The more of a job or task that can be accomplished without being accounted for, the less there will be of that job or task to actually be accounted for. The less there is to account for, the less compensation can be offfered in exchange for the task performed!! Within trucking all unpaid work involves time. But that’s almost always uncompensated time and thus uncompensated work. What this means is that if a driver spends 4hrs loading, does a insp, and drivers 10hrs then spends 2hrs unloading the carrier and customer just got 6hrs of free work/time out of the driver. And this created a sense that to pickup deliver & unload only cost all parties involved 10hrs of transportation labor time. The task should have involve 4+10+2+=16hrs. But we got the task accomplish for only 10hrs of labor!! This is why as Joe Ammons indicates wages are low! Because if the task to move that freight costed 16hrs of transportation time then the supply of time would be diminished and if there is less time the value of the time will cost more. Supply&Demand! I can just hear it now “but we can’t afford more trucks & drivers!!!” Yeah right!!! because you don’t want a real shortage of Drivers, that why ATA!!!!!! All the ATA wants is to control everything under conditions that really approach nothing more than SWEATSHOPS ON WHEELS as it has been said before.
    There is no driver shortage! If there was a real driver shortage, there would be a Race To The Top in driver pay!! Carriers would offer drivers a ever increasing pay rate to entice them to drive for the carrier with the most to offer. Instead what we have is nothing but a Race To The Bottom and the carriers love it! The only reason large ATA Carriers haven’t decreased pay anymore than they have is because they are competing with small outfits, mexicans, east indian sikhs and whats left of the good ole boy owner/ops. Put them out of busniess and corner the market of trucking and you’ll see this become a 25K-30K/yr job. Mark My Words this can happen!
    The American Trucking Association carriers would like nothing more than to eliminate the competition or swallow them up by ever increasing regulation(EOBR CSA CPAP SMARTWAY Green Technology)all meant to drive the competition out of business. Then capitalize on the surplus of drivers by always being able to fill their trucks with desperate drivers willing to work for nothing!!

  • slapUsilly

    If you add BUS drivers and ALL Interstate drivers to this bill, I might support it!

  • David S. McQueen

    Pay is one facet of a huge problem. The logging of vehicle operation (and thus the driver’s work time) is impossible to adequately determine. Even if EOBRs are installed, the driver must still log on and off duty. Many private carriers only use CMVs to carry workers and equipment to a job site and even when there, they don’t stay on duty the entire time. The Section 390.5 that defines a CMV needs to exclude any CMV with a GVWR/GCWR/GVW/GCW of 26,000 or less. If our beloved federal government MUST regulate those vehicles at 26,000 or less, generate a realistic SEPARATE set of rules for those small trucks run by private carriers.

  • Leonard

    Take a look at the bottom of the petition, where the check mark is at. If you leave that checked and submit you will then be taken to some very far left web sites. This sounds like those crack pots that only want truck drivers to drive eight hours a day. Be careful what you sign.

  • Robert Bishop

    What part of OWNER Operator and INDEPENDENT Driver don’t you understand? You decide how long you work and how much you pay yourself.

  • michael bechara

    Hats of to you joe ! i’m with you a 100% and if you need help with this let me know thanks for all that you are doing .

  • michael bechara

    vote anthony foxx out of office

  • Urscrewed

    I’m got a union card application for you as well.

  • EF McHenry

    David S. McQueen your correct and your wrong too! Yes drivers have to log on-duty line 4 correctly. But these are also not the good ole days where a solo driver could pickup a load in Ca and get a good solid 7day week to pennsylvania either. These large carriers are compressing transit times. If they give you a 300 miles run, you aint gonna get to run it at your discretion(i.e. at your pace and schedule). If you have a lot of tie on a run they’ll make you drop it a get under another one. Why because as I’ve screamed and yelled so many times these ATA carriers are treating the HOS rules as mandates to work!! There are dispatchers going so far as to say I got you for 12 & 14 and you’re gonna run! And if you don’t run you’re not being compliant!!
    That’s why I agreed with Mr. Ammonds. Do you understand this?? Come on you’re a smart guy! Think about it!!

  • David S. McQueen

    My point was that EOBRs in vehicles that are NOT for-hire carriers are useless. Rarely, if ever, does an oil field worker run afoul of the 11-hour limit. The problem is that they might work (not drive) for 16 hours and thus can’t drive a CMV until they take a10-hour break. I was NOT addressing the 18-wheelers (yes, I did drive them) that carry property for compensation. When the company I drove for “loaned” us to Wal-Mart, we had to drive 11 hours. We were not permitted to drive less and thus it was extremely difficult to find legal parking for the break. We’d drive 11 and break 10, then drive another 11, etc. Do NOT get angry at me. Everything I wrote was correct and reasonable.

  • Earl Conlon

    I wrote about this very subject in my Book “And the Trucks quit running” in this novel i wrote about Truck drivers and Law makers creating rules for the industry. truckers aren’t law makers and law makers aren’t truckers but together they can make fair rules for all of us.. after all how do you regulate an industry if you have no clue what the Job requires…

  • jonbquick

    Trucking is already over regulated. Get out of my business and stay out. I want no EOBR’s. All loads should be regulated like over sized loads, daylight hours only and no weekends or holidays. Then you can throw the logbooks out the window. This would cost the industry far less than all the other requirements.

  • martymarsh

    Yeah yeah yeah, let’s strike. Mean while I stand here by myself as usual. Everyone wants someone else to do something about it. Like anything, you have to give something up to get something. As a whole, we are a bunch of cowards.

  • Todd Dills

    That’s why Ammons notes that it wouldn’t affect him directly, but would conceivably put upward pressure on rates.

  • Duane Osborne

    “It`s time to get big trucking in line”


  • EF McHenry

    The reason hourly pay is more fair is because not all loads or runs and not all repairs and not all other types of duties are equal. It is possible to do a 300 mile run in 6hrs on a fast drop&hook and open unemcumber hwy. On the other hand it is also possible to get stuck under a 300 mile road that takes nearly all day to load and takes another full day to run and unload.
    It is possible to stop at a truck stop for repairs and be in and out in 2hrs. It is also possible to stop for necessary repairs and get detained for the entire day

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