Letters From Readers

Thank you for such a splendid article [“It’s the Pay, Stupid,” Viewpoint, November 2004]. As a recruiter, I truly agree. I entered the trucking industry in the early 1980s. In the mid-’80s,the industry lost a lot of good drivers due to the introduction of the commercial driver’s license. Then in the mid-’90s, rates were depleted, and operating costs were rising faster than owner-operators could keep up with. In the early 2000s, fuel price hikes began. Rates were still not keeping up, and many owner-operators left the industry.

Now I am receiving calls from people who are looking to return. This is solely due to the rates catching up with the times.

Owner-operators who have come through all this are great business people who know what operating cost and profitability mean.
Jones Motor Group, Spring City, Pa.

Your November Viewpoint about pay was right on. I’ve been a truck driver since 1968 and have worked just about all conditions possible in the trucking industry. The pay has determined 90 percent of the time whether I’ll take the job.

The pay also determines whether a company is serious about keeping well-dressed, motivated, professional drivers. All companies want drug-free, experienced, intelligent drivers. Not all companies want to front the pay, though. They’ll put up with tank tops, shorts and flip-flops or sandals just to keep the pay down.

Higher pay draws quality people. I’d much rather have driven old trucks for companies that offered the bucks. This type of company almost always wants top-of-the-line drivers with lots of experience and mechanical knowledge. You always get what you pay for. I wonder why most companies try to work around this universal principle.
Tetra Tech, Santa Maria, Calif.

Since no two drivers can agree that red is red, here is a plan for shutting down to get the changes we need.

Drivers who supported President Bush would shut down for two weeks, then drivers who supported John Kerry would shut down the following two weeks. After a few months, we would all give two-week notices to our companies.

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Here is what we would grant:

  1. Compliance with hours of service and other regulations.
  2. No more CB trash talk.
  3. No more trash left on the road.
  4. Reporting unsafe driving, drug or alcohol use or other illegal activity by other drivers.
  5. Staying out of large cities’ rush-hour traffic.
  6. Agreement not to shut down.

Here is what we would expect in return:

  1. 75 percent pay increase for drivers. Pay by the hour is the only way to stop over-hours driving.
  2. Paid health insurance, same as Congress gets.
  3. Retirement plan, with benefits increasing for each year as a driver.
  4. Paid holidays.
  5. One week paid vacation for every three months driving.
  6. No driver unloading or paying to be unloaded.
  7. Freight rate of $2 a mile.
  8. Elimination of PC Miler or household mover miles unless each state accepts the same mileage for road taxes.
  9. Tolls and bridge fees added to rates.
  10. Hourly pay on stops of more than one hour.
  11. No drivers who are not U.S. citizens.
  12. Proper training and equipment for hazmat drivers.
  13. More rest areas and other truck parking.

Evansville, Ind.

I have been in the trucking industry since 1979. I get so sick of turning the CB on and hearing all the foul language. Shame to know that three-fourths of drivers go home and kiss their kids with their nasty mouths. Just because you do a dirty job does not mean you have to be dirty. I really wish drivers would clean up their act.

What has happened to the industry? What happened to pulling together? It used to be if a driver broke down, another driver would stop and help. Now you are just left on the side of the road.

We are not a dime a dozen. Should the drivers start pulling together instead of being so cutthroat, things could possibly change. I have been hearing for years: Strike, strike. Yet when it comes time, drivers stick their tails between their legs and run. There are times I am ashamed to say I was a driver.
Gaston, S.C.

Send letters to Write On, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or fax to (205) 750-8070, or send e-mail to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for length and content.