The news over at the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday included a release from editors at J.J. Keller, emphasizing the reach of CSA 2010 beyond just for-hire truck carriers. “When the term ‘motor carrier’ is used,” says Transportation Management Editor Robert Rose, “many people immediately connect this to mean only ‘trucking companies.’ In actuality, [CSA 2010] applies to all carriers with a US DOT number engaged in the furtherance of interstate commerce, no matter what ‘type’ of carrier they are. Landscaping, welding, and pest control companies will be as much a part of this program.”
What the story didn’t get into was the extent to which shippers themselves will be impacted. At the “Perfect Storm” conference here in Nashville this week, sponsored by Overdrive and Truckers News‘ owners Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information and attended primarily by members of the Truckload Carriers Association, the carrier recruiting and management staff on hand for the presentations sounded at least one hopeful note for carriers and drivers. That note was best summed up by current TCA chairman John Kaburick, president of Earl L. Henderson Trucking. Introducing the two-day seminar program Tuesday morning, Kaburick noted the tightening of capacity that CSA 2010’s coincidence with the ongoing economic rebound will ultimately result in — including a tightening in the numbers of carriers and drivers who are able to effectively compete in the markeplace. For the healthy companies, “I believe it will drive rates up. … We’ll see drivers making $70,000-90,000 a year,” he said. “I think we’ll become a lot more attractive industry with a lot more qualified, skilled people.”
He wasn’t the only one sounding similar notes throughout the program, many noting that the day is coming when drivers themselves will hold much more negotiating power over their own pay rates from carriers at sign-on. I touched on this dynamic in my reporting on the FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program. It remains to be seen whether it will all play out exactly this way, and talking with Todd Spencer of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association today about the history of the “driver shortage” terminology and more, it’s clear that carrier representatives have been sounding notes of hope about driver pay at critical economic moments for years, with little real result. “If it were anything more than giving lip-service to the problem, we wouldn’t still be talking about it,” Spencer says.
But, at the least, it’s clear we’re headed into an interesting, perhaps exciting, time….