SET HIGHER STANDARDS FOR DRIVER RECRUITMENT
I read with interest “A Leg Up” [WriteOn, October] about the program in Louisville, Ky., to attract, train and place people deemed unemployable into the trucking industry. One point of view is that this is a socially correct, warm and fuzzy approach to getting people off welfare and merged with the ranks of proud, tax-paying workers. But let me share a different view from someone who has enjoyed 40-plus years in trucking.
view is that this is a socially correct, warm and fuzzy approach to getting people off welfare and merged with the ranks of tax-paying workers. But let me share a different view from someone who has enjoyed 40-plus years in trucking.
The primary motivation to tap this hiring pool has two components: a large group of lower-educated, dirt-poor people whose income can only rise no matter the rate of compensation; and hundreds of thousands of government dollars to cover the cost of the recruiting.
Every time a driver starts that engine, he or she exposes the fleet to millions of dollars in liability. An industry that constantly has to defend itself from adverse public opinion doesn’t need more disillusioned drivers, and certainly not the ex-felons mentioned as possible recruits. In this day of heightened security and criminal background checks, why would any company want to add more potential problems? There is a big difference between bargain and true value.
Instead of bottom-feeding for new drivers, how about aggressively recruiting the returning men and women of the military? They are already tried and proven in the areas of discipline, personal appearance and pride.
As far as the mechanical aspect of driving goes, Uncle Sam has programs that assist in the costs involved. Besides, we owe it to them. This is much more of a “win-win” situation than the Louisville program.
‘LOAD ALL DAY, AND DRIVE ALL NIGHT’
In the two years that I spent driving over-the-road, and the dozen companies that I worked for, I didn’t find anything that qualified as a reasonable job.
There are plenty of companies that will put you in a truck. During orientation, they all say the same thing: “We expect you to run legal at all times.” But it always turns into “load all day, and drive all night.”
My take-home pay was $600. At the age of 50, I was making a big $8.50 per hour to risk my life holding the truck at top speed everywhere, dealing with angry people who treated me like trash, risking huge fines and living out of the back of a truck.
Ask yourself: What is your life worth? What is your time worth? For me, it’s worth much more than the $600 per week that the trucking industry is willing to pay me. That’s why I’m sitting here now, instead of holding some Freightliner flat to the floor on Interstate 80.
Driver turnover above 100 percent? When you consider all that they demand, and how little they give you in return, I’m surprised that fleets can find anybody willing to do the job.
The only way to get anybody to notice us is to threaten to walk away from the job. Shippers will pay as much as it takes if there’s a load of produce sitting on the dock.
STRIKE TO BRING DOWN BIG OIL
It is bad enough that all fuel has gotten out of control since the Iraq war started and Hurricane Katrina, but for diesel fuel to be more than gasoline is beyond me.
I am a disabled woman who has trouble making ends meet, but I can’t imagine how hard it is for truckers to make a living when, in my town, gas has dropped to $2.59 per gallon, and diesel is still $2.95.
It will be hard on everyone if you go on strike – there will be shortages and total chaos. But I beg you, if anything is ever going to change, strike! I have no knowledge of the trucking industry, but you must have the power to make a difference and stop this madness.
With all the freedoms we have in this country, why isn’t anyone using them besides the illegal immigrants who don’t have the right to use them?
We all should have taken one day to boycott gas stations when we heard of the huge profits that oil companies were making. But no one has done a thing to make a stand.
What happened to the good old sit-ins of the 1960s – people just stopping for a few hours to take a stand and be heard? You are many and could make a huge impact for all of us.
SECURITY SHOULD INCLUDE PROFILING
I recently sat in an office waiting with other drivers to get our fingers printed for the latest hazmat security requirements and wondered why we were doing this in the first place.
I feel we are doing more to make us feel safe, rather than making us safe. A news program, for example, reported how Israel screens its passengers by looking closer at Arab Muslims than at any other group of people. This cannot happen here because someone would cry foul for profiling.
How many times have we seen people commit terrible crimes and said to ourselves: Why didn’t someone see the warning signs and stop it from happening? That is the key to our security. Let’s get training to our front-line people to observe and, yes, profile people to find those who are suspect. Israel spends $76 per airline passenger for screening. We spend $6.
That discrepancy shows we are giving up something. We need to use the most effective security we can.
Mount Morris, Ill.
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