Speak-Out

Letters to the Editor:

Owner-operator status needs scrutiny
I think we have to be reasonable and not insist that companies, even large ones, should be allowed to classify employees as owner-operators. FedEx is an example. The mail delivery company requires uniforms, controls routes and dictates work hours and truck specs, including paint and markings. Those guys definitely are employees: To classify them as “independent” defies the term.

The port container haulers, using decrepit tractors owned by the finance companies, earn less than a union man makes driving a company truck.

Well, if you want the big companies to be able to rip off the working man, these business models are the ones you will advocate. But these models are not the ones that will stand the test of time. They never have. Either the workers or the government gets tired of being ripped off after a while.

Many drivers leasing trucks from companies – and then leasing them right back – just don’t play with a full deck. Nearly all of them would be better off driving a company truck. I think these lease-purchase programs eventually will be tried in the federal courts and found to be illegal. Then the freight rates will increase a little while those fleets that offered lease-purchasing will have to deal with their real expenses, including Social Security benefits, 401(k) plans, health incentives, vacation, holidays, workman’s compensation and a decent wage for good drivers.
HANS HUYER
President, Hansi’s Refrigerated eXpress
Seattle, Wash.

Survival tough in this market
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them.

The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.
TOM KOLLER
Denver

California reg’s cost will cripple small business
My father started PDM Transportation almost 20 years ago. My family and I now employ 20 drivers and six clerical employees.

Unfortunately, proposed regulation from the California Air Resources Board, which the board will review in December, would require every diesel truck and bus to be replaced or retrofitted over five to seven years at a cost of more than $5 billion.

We would be required to replace or retrofit almost half of our fleet at a cost of nearly $1 million. We cannot afford that expense.

Like many small businesses in California, we already struggle with the high price of diesel fuel and other costs, such as providing health care for our employees. We provide a fair wage and offer a 401(k) plan. We have resisted staff cuts, but with these new regulations, something will have to give.

Jobs will be lost and you and I will pay more for household goods.

I want to continue to do my part to clean up the environment, but I’m very concerned that this new state regulation with such a rigid timeline will have a devastating impact on small businesses like ours.
DANIEL DEL MURO
Vice president,
PDM Transportation Inc.
Fontana, Calif.

Plan well to survive
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them. The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.
TOM KOLLER
Denver


What is your idea of the perfect truck?
“Something like a Peterbilt, with 10-gear transmission. Something that doesn’t smoke too much. . . . A white truck.”
TIM COLLINS
Hopewell, Va.
Swift

“One with a bathroom. Nothing fancy. Just nice on the inside. Comfortable seats, comfortable bed. You can’t drive well without a good night’s sleep.”
KEENAN ROGERS
Memphis, Tenn.
Southern Refrigerated

“I’d like to have a decked-out Peterbilt 369. There’s nothing prettier than a black truck when it’s clean with lots of chrome.”
WARREN HAMBRIGHT
Jacksonville, Ala.
Sunbelt Transport

“A mattress, a good, working sleeper, a comfortable seat. I’d be partial to white myself.”
BILL READMAN
Pearl, Miss.
Atlantic Industrial Services

“I’m not too big on the fancy things. . . . So my idea of a perfect truck is no chrome, no payments, plenty of room inside.”
TODD LECKIE
Noble, Okla.
J.B. Hunt


What is the best advice you’ve received from a trucker?

“Watch what you’re doing, especially when you’re backing.”
TRACY SNIPES
Dayton, Texas

“To put God first.”
LARRY HEAD
Fort Valley, Ga.
Welborn Transportation

“Get plenty of sleep and rest before you drive.”
HARLEY PERVANSKY
Columbus, Ga.
TMC

“Never use your jake brakes on ice.”
ROBERT HILL
Atlanta, Ga.
Swift Transportation


” Everybody was my boss, and I never had a boss.”
– Owner-operator Steven Donaldson, of Fayetteville, Ohio, telling the New York Times about the crew that followed him during the filming of “Drive and Deliver,” a Navistar-produced documentary about truckers driving the new LoneStar.

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