Some carriers rewarding leased/company haulers, where it counts

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Updated Apr 29, 2020
Kenny Lewis summed up the majority response to this poll, showing no sort of bonus pay structure to compensate for added risk on the road for company drivers and leased owner-operators. “Well, we’re still running, so there’s that,” Lewis said.Kenny Lewis summed up the majority response to this poll, showing no sort of bonus pay structure to compensate for added risk on the road for company drivers and leased owner-operators. “Well, we’re still running, so there’s that,” Lewis said.

While a large majority of leased owner-operators and company drivers among Overdrive readers have seen no attempt from their fleet partners at any kind of “COVID pay” or hazard bonus structure through the crisis, as shown in polling results as of this morning, it’s true that some fleets have delivered.

Marcos A. Bonilla, commenting over on Overdrive‘s Facebook page under a share of the above poll, noted that for the month of April, “Landstar is giving back $50 per load” to both the owner-op who hauled it and the network’s agent who booked it.

In a corporate press release issued last weekend ahead of a routine earnings call with investors, Landstar President and CEO Jim Gattoni cast the move as an effort to financially support those important partners in its network, and estimated that Landstar-leased owner-operators “will deliver between 60,000 and 70,000 loads” this month. Do the math.

(OK, I’ll do it, too: That’s an estimated $3 to $3.5 million that will go to those hauling the freight, the same amount to the agents who handled the booking.)

Gattoni added that if a Landstar owner-op tests positive for COVID-19 “or is placed under a mandatory quarantine by a public health authority,” the company pledged to provide “up to $2,000” to the trucker thus affected. The $50 per-load boosts could extend into May, Gattoni said on a conference call last week. “If we see load volumes where they stay, we may consider extending it either the two weeks or another four weeks into May. If we see the load volumes start to turn, we may not.”

Other carriers singled out for hazard-pay premiums include flatbed fleet Malone, under the CRST family of companies, noted reader Craig Vecellio.

“J.B. Hunt gave everyone a $500 bonus for working through it about three weeks ago,” wrote Michael Visnefski.

Our colleagues at Truckers News have cataloged a couple other examples of bonuses that have been announced, including a 5-cent-a-mile bump for company drivers at Somerset, Ky.-based CoreTrans, LLC, and boosts for drivers at Roadmaster Group of Phoenix (including +2% for leased owner-ops). “Long Haul Paul” Marhoefer told me last week, too, that Ohio-based Moeller Trucking, for whom he pulls a reefer (and the occasional milk tank), had boosted pay as well, while many of you may recall James Jaillet’s story that noted two-truck owner-operator Rick Sterling‘s $125 weekly bonus push to the other operator in Bluegrass Express operation out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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In short (or rather to put an end to long, as it were), what seems necessary is in fact happening, though the broader picture isn’t anywhere near so sanguine.

“Bonus?” David Gallegos rhetorically chortled, with plenty laughing emojis in his commentary under the Facebook share of the poll. The company he works for “can barely find loads and, the ones they find, brokers have scalped, making them not worth the run.”

With rates dropped through the floor no one can afford to pay a bonus,” wrote Rick Schneider, while Lorne Gilbert just felt “lucky that I’m still getting paid.” That’s just what the CEO of Thomas Bearfield‘s fleet told him and others at the company. 

There are places where freight is flowing and owner-ops are doing fine. Dedicated on Prime’s brokerage side, Mike “Mustang” Crawford‘s had all the loads he can handle, he told me today. (Fringe benefit for him: For fuel this past week he paid just more than a buck a gallon, still able as he is to take advantage of the large fleet’s volume discounts. How’s it looking for those of you with the NASTC fuel program? I wonder.)

If you’ve heard of other companies than deserve mentioning, post them in the comments below. Give a little kudos where it’s due, as did “DavenAshley” Beard in their comment on Overdrive‘s Facebook page, though they didn’t name the fleet. “They just upped all our drivers’ pay 5 percent, and told us in these unprecedented times we’ve done a great job. And I want to thank all of you guys and gals out there keepin’ ’em rollin’.”

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