Driver on detention pay: ‘If all else fails, pray’

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Updated Sep 15, 2015

Following reporting on the issue of uncompensated waits at loading docks yesterday, driver commentary highlights the practical issues the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will deal with should it pursue regulation of shippers and receivers following the study of the issue it’s conducting.

A commenter here at noted  that widespread use of detention pay in rate contracts may well have side effects that could trigger pay losses in other areas, principally linehaul rates. “Some of the proponents make it seem so easy to get detention at a dock,” the commenter noted. “It will be tough to get it in the rates due to other carriers lowering the rates — and we are back to the rate war once again, especially now that the rates are on a slow rise to liveable limits. Few owner-operators have the customer base to change the rates to include a fair detention rate. I do think that if a receiver orders a product, they should be ready to offload it in a timely fashion upon arrival.”

Former owner-operator Rick Gaskill, commenting on Facebook, noted the need for standards of practice and fairness in detention pay — from all sides. “It’s one thing if drivers have an appointment and are detained,” he said, “but many shippers and receivers don’t set appointments and don’t feel responsible for delays.”

At “Purina in Nashville,” he wrote, hopper bottoms might wait hours to unload, but the company “has a sign stating they will only pay detention if there is a mechanical malfunction in the unloading system, or if there isn’t room in the product bin to receive the product.”

And honesty is the best policy: One customer Gaskill knows “now refuses to pay detention,” he said, “because three trucks from the same carrier got together and arrived at the same time knowing two of them would get detention.”

Also commenting on Overdrive‘s Facebook page, Mel Kilburn was less diplomatic about it.   While she believes mandatory detention pay should be part of law, “I believe drivers and dock workers should all have to take professionalism classes,” Kilburn wrote. “I have seen a lot of dock people and drivers get into arguments. Drivers get tired of lazy dock people waiting to get unloaded. I wasn’t rude, but this one lady wouldn’t work with me and have the switcher move the trailer, so every weekend I had to struggle to get a trailer in.”

Finally, Kilburn took matters into her own hands. “I prayed to God and asked him to break the dock and it broke!”

Give us your two cents here in the comments.