Support from Women in Trucking
As I mentioned before I had been in a brouhaha for months while I was a Member of “Women in Trucking“. ( that link will direct you my my other “out of line” posts on WIT) As many may have read in “The Trucker” my membership was revoked by Ellen Voie. The letter to the right was dated October 20, 2009 and reads as follows: “Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $25. This is a refund of your membership dues. Our Organization is dependent upon our members who support our mission so your membership privileges have been revoked due to you actions that contradict our goals. Sincerely, Ellen Voie President/CEO Women in Trucking, Inc.”
I was a member for about a year and a half and in that time I was privileged only to be bereated on a regular basis with Ellen’s seeming approval. Although privately she admitted she had to often moderate Sandy Long aka “Lady Godiva” (read link) for her conduct on WIT , she did not seem to want to be involved with any of the actual Women Truckers.
It seemed like anyone who joined was promptly made to feel unwelcome and then disappeared from the forum. On most forums there is always that one person who has to put their two cents into every single comment, ussually adding some snarky remark, but based on the Mission Statement I kept expecting Ellen Voie to pop in and sort of take control of what was going on. That did not happen.
In my thread ‘My New Experience Might Help You” which has now been deleted from WIT but had over 3000 reads , some poorly planned remarks about the Dan Rather Report and the US Express Incident which I will write about shortly, I came to see that there was a pattern, perhaps even an intent to chase women away from WIT who asked real questions about violence during the training period.
In addition to entire threads being removed I had also noticed that individual posts were disappearing but the number of posts made was staying the same. That indicated someone was removing items, things were being moderated away but it was leaving a trail. Another item was that when a topic such as harassment toward Women was mentioned there was a flurry of new posts made immediately afterwards which pushed the harassment posts down and out of sight.
Because I had been labeled a troublemaker by the HR Lady at my company and been called a “Radical Feminist” at WIT, I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts by reviving these “Forbidden Topics” regularly to observe the usual suspects come unglued. It seems silly I know but this entire thing has been sort of a Human Study while I was in my training and with Social Media.
When the antics on the WIT Forum had gone so completely out of control as I mentioned before, I did call Char Pingel and then emailed Ellen Voie. I had also been listening to a driver CD from my company that kept using voice tracks of Ellen’s that seemed to be some sort of endorsement from WIT. I wanted to know why she would let her trademarked name be used when the sort of conduct that was happening to me was also happening frequently to many others. The portion of the recording that bothered me was that the industry statistic of Women Truckers stood at 5%-6% BUT at Covenant Transport it was more like 15%, which meant they were actively recruiting Women with NO clear Policy to keep them safe. I was seeing it with my own eyes.
So many times I asked “Is there any Women I can team with?” There was no network in place for me to meet other Women for the team phase of my training BUT I knew Women were getting off trucks at all of our terminals for the same reasons. The question was WHY don’t they let us network and team up? I met a few Women who were at their “WITS END” (No Pun Intended but if the shoe fits). These competent Women Trucking Students just walked away, they quit because our company had pushed them too far and placed them in too many situations that affected their learning and safety.
I told Ellen that the CD seemed to “Imply” she endorsed my company and given the situation I wrote that she should be concerned that they were using her trade marked name without a clear policy to protect the Women from the unsafe “team business model”. Ellen returned my email with this response: “Since our interviews go on every company’s audio magazine, it’s not an endorsement at all. Do the drivers also think that the entertainers and performers are endorsing the company? The CD is for entertainment purposes, but the carrier specific content is to inform drivers. I think that the exposure is beneficial for Women In Trucking. “
I thought that response was a little crass and she seemed to miss the point. That being, Women are facing many Obstacles getting through their training at my company. To hear a CD provided by our management with her as the Women in Trucking Cheerleader was sort of a slap in the face.
I began posting other topics in the WIT forum like “The best CEO’s” and other items hoping she would come back down to earth and read her own Mission Statement. I am very proud of the postings I made on WIT and I received a great deal of positive feedback by Women who sought to find me off of the forum where they would not be attacked and berated. I have copied those posts but I expect Ellen is desperate to eliminate my contributions to her forum but utilize the information for her own purposes to promote herself.
I have mixed feelings about this because I offered to help Ellen on many occasions promote HER agenda which was not Harrassment but I was clear that I would not use my gift to drive traffic to her unless she dealt aggressively with the epidemic I was watching in trucking. I would get this “We are quietly working behind the scenes” which is a “Blow Off” and really means, “Maybe if we be quiet and be nice polite girls people treat us better out of the goodness in their hearts”. Just like my HR Lady telling me that “Maybe if I got along better with my Co-Drivers…” which translated to me as: “I should have Fucked Him so I’d have Job Security” is that the answer? If I let my Co-Driver take advantage of my person and Human Dignity it makes me a better Truck Driver?
At that time I had also been observing Ellen on Twitter, she never followed anyone back even though people were following her. On Twitter, that shows arrogance. Twitter is interactive, it is not all about YOU, it is about sharing and exchanging and spreading the word or “Paying it Forward” so to speak. If all you do is talk about yourself and you don’t interact or show your personality, people lose interest in you. You are irrelevant.
The other thing that was odd was that what Ellen was tweeting on Twitter, she never mentioned on her WIT forum and it was very telling, especially when her only friend was the ATA @TruckingMatters which to Truck Drivers is not your allie. I also observed actual Women Truckers trying to communicate to Ellen through Twitter and she ignored them. At first I assumed she didn’t know how to use it and I offered to help but she ignored me. Now I know she does know how to use it and “Borrow” her inspirations.
Back on the forum, Sandy Long aka Lady Godiva who as it turns out is a lifelong OOIDA Member (supposedly the anti-ATA) seemed to dominate everyone and everything that was WIT, more so than Ellen who simply popped in once in awhile to ask for advice on topics and products. It seemed to me that what Ellen was doing was using the Forum only as her own personal marketing focus group, she would throw out a question, gather data and utilize it for her purposes to market items and write articles. It was almost like she didn’t care about any of the heated exchanges that were going on. She only cared about whatever it was she was trying to market at that particular time, but it was never clear if those items that were developed with the ideas from the women on the forum benefited WIT. Does WIT only provide salaries or is there was some sort of program to help Women overcome obstacles in the trucking industry?
As I mentioned before, my first online stalker originated from the WIT forum, under the Twitter tag of @FreightLady1966 a “Gloria Torbich”, I recognized the name right away when I received an email on my Twitter account that said “Gloria Torbich is now following you on Twitter @Freightlady1966″. I had privately emailed Gloria also when it seemed like Sandy Long was becoming overly agitated by my participation on the WIT forum. Ellen was well aware of it and read posts made by Gloria from Twitter and from two other sites. In an email, Ellen Voie indicated she knew some people had more than one online identity and despite the fact that again her trade marked name was being used, she seemed unconcerned.
One thing I have mentioned in my story time and again is that it was actually other “Women” who were the biggest obstacles for me in becoming a truck driver. My Trainer, The Team Coordinator, The HR Lady, and Drivers like “Lily” in my story that make new Women Truckers “Guilty until proven Innocent”. My next obstacles were the Women at “Women in Trucking” and that was because they really didn’t seem to like other Women. Ellen seemed to be more interested in promoting WIT but she was completely disinterested in helping Women in the Trucking Industry overcome existing obstacles.
I watched several new Women begin to post and right away the snarky snide comments would begin to basically run most off. These were ladies who were asking simple questions on how they can best prepare themselves to be successful as truckers. My perception was that with returning veterans coming home soon, many would come to trucking, more Women also who had gone into combat would look to a job that gave them independence like trucking. I proposed on my very popular thread called “My NEW experience might help you” that maybe WE could lay the groundwork now to make better policies, clear strategies to help these young ladies have a smooth transition if they did so choose the Trucking Industry. Especially NOW while the economy was crumbling it was the perfect time to effect change.
What I got was a TIRADE that goes as follows: (Note: What I wrote was taken apart and is in normal print, I have bolded the response to see how Sandy Long reacts to my post)
Subject: Women In Trucking: Reply posted to topic: My new experience in trucking might help you.
New message has been posted to forum Advice to New Truck Drivers, topic: My new experience in trucking might help you. by Lady Godiva on 11/28/2008 at 12:04 PM.
Message: Desiree…I am sorry, I have to disagree with some of what you said…respectfully of course…my comments will be in caps…I am not shouting tho.
Quote: Actually, the current economical crisis has presented us a golden opportunity to seize control as companies are going to be in reorganization.
SIEZE CONTROL??? THIS DOESN’T SOUND TOO GOOD DOES IT…AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SIEZE CONTROL OF ANY SITUATION IN A COMPANY REORGANIZATION? ARE WOMEN GOING TO WORK CHEAPER THAN THE MEN? ARE WOMEN BETTER DRIVERS THAN MEN OVERALL? DO YOU THINK THAT A COMPANY SHOULD ONLY LAY OFF THE MALE DRIVERS AND OFFICE PERSONNEL?
(** note that nowhere have I mentioned Women taking Mens Jobs from them or anything of the sort that implies Women are better than Men)
Women are growing in this industry at a significant pace. It is to the benefit of the company to recruit them and therefore it is up to us to demand now we expect to not be isolated purposely to intimidate us, badgered for sex by our teammate/trainers, purposely mis-informed by other females who have a personal axe to grind, humiliated, violated or physically abused.
THE PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN AS DRIVERS IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY HAS REMAINED FAIRLY STAGNENT FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS RUNNING BETWEEN 5-7%, THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE AND SUPERVISORY POSITIONS IN COMPANIES THOUGH DUE TO MORE WOMEN GETTING DEGREES IN AREAS CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION AND WORKING THEIR WAY UP THE CORPORATE LADDER. AGAIN, WHY IS IT BENEFITIAL FOR A COMPANY TO HIRE WOMEN OVER MALES?
IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT ANYONE BE HARASSED OR INTIMIDATED (THOUGH PERSONALLY I THINK THAT IF SOMEONE IS INTIMIDATED THAT IT IS MORE OF A PERSONAL PROBLEM), BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DEMAND THAT NOT HAPPEN? SHOULD COMPANIES PUT VIDEO CAMERAS AND VOICE RECORDERS IN THE CAB OF THE TRUCKS? HOW ABOUT INSTEAD OF DEMANDING, WE WORK WITH OUR BROTHER DRIVERS TO EDUCATE THEM ABOUT HOW TO INTERACT WITH US AND WORK WITH THEM TO GET BETTER TRAINING/TRAINER REGULATIONS PUT IN PLACE.
I HAVE NEVER MET A FEMALE DRIVER THAT MISINFORMS ANYONE ON PURPOSE…THO THEY MAY DO SO DUE TO LACK OF THEIR OWN KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE.
INTIMIDATION AND HUMILIATION ACT ON INDIVIDUALS IN DIFFERENT WAYS, HOW IS THIS REGULATED? WHILE I MAY FEEL A LITTLE HUMILIATED BECAUSE I CANNOT BACK INTO A SPOT, IT IS BECAUSE OF MY PERSONAL FEELINGS, NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT SOMEONE HAS DONE TO ME. I WOULD ASSUME THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HOW A TRAINER MIGHT HUMILIATE SOMEONE OR INTIMIDATE THEM…OR HOW A DISPATCHER MIGHT INTIMIDATE SOMEONE INTO DOING SOMETHING UNSAFE OR ILLEGAL. THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO OUR BROTHER DRIVERS ALSO BY THE SAME PEOPLE…IT IS NOT ONLY A FEMALE THING.
OF COURSE I TOTALLY AGREE THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE ABUSED AND/OR VIOLATED. BUT, THERE AGAIN THAT IS A LOT OF THE TIME IN ONES PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT IS GOING ON. i THINK THAT ANY TRAINER OR PERSON IN A SUPERVISORY CAPACITY THAT FORCES ANYONE TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM SHOULD BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW…BUT THEN AGAIN, I THINK THAT ANYONE THAT ALLOWS THEMSELVES TO BE FORCED INTO HAVING SEX TO KEEP A JOB OR TO ADVANCE OUGHT TO HAVE ENFORCED COUNCELLING TOO…WE DO HAVE CHOICES TO MAKE IN LIFE AND OPTIONS.
Students and CDL mills may not be able to pour into industry for a period because loans for school are harder to get. Less students, less government subsidies and tax credits makes companies look to their current structure to turn a profit.
THOUGH I AGREE THAT THERE WILL BE FEWER LOANS PERHAPS FOR STUDENTS TO ENTER THE INDUSTRY, I DO NOT THINK THAT THIS WILL BE THE CASE FOR VERY LONG AND THOUGH SOME OF THE TRAINING COMPANIES HAVE PUT A FREEZE ON HIRING ANY DRIVERS, THERE ARE STILL SOME THAT WILL HIRE A STUDENT OVER AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER DUE TO COST OF WAGE DIFFERENCIAL. HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT WOMEN DRIVERS? AS I SAID ABOVE, DO WOMEN DRIVERS WORK CHEAPER OR DO A BETTER JOB THAN MALES?
We can do that by reaching out and communicating and networking with companies WHO WANT to benefit from the growing demographic of QUALIFIED women.
I THINK THAT COMPANIES SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO BECOME FEMALE FRIENDLY AND GIVE WOMEN A CHANCE TO WORK FOR THEM AND ADVANCE SAME AS THE MALES. I THINK THAT FACILITIES SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR THE FEMALES IN TERMINALS AND WAREHOUSES. I IN NO WAY THINK THAT IT IS OF GREATER BENEFIT FOR A COMPANY TO HIRE A QUALIFIED WOMAN THAN A QUALIFIED MALE, I PERSONALLY DO NOT THINK THAT GENDER SHOULD ENTER INTO HIRING DECISIONS IN ANY WAY…THAT MY SISTERS IS EQUALITY AND WHAT MYSELF AND MY SISTER OLD HAND LADY DRIVERS HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR.
The only stupid question is the one you do not ask… (this is the real tagline, I kid you not)
WOW! Talk about communication breakdown, the first thing I thought when I saw this was how do you conclude that I’m proposing that Women are out to take all the Men’s jobs by asking for clear polices? One of the problems I have seen is that nothing is defined. You have people from a variety of backgrounds and education levels with very little support or guidance whose lives are being managed by a 20 something who is not trained to understand or recognize that a “Situation” is occurring and action must be taken NOW!
This sort of conduct went on for months on the WIT forum until I went for broke and tried to introduce a girl I had come in contact with who was allegedly raped by another driver. WOO HOO, FIREWORKS!!! Even Ellen posted that time, that was the day she made posting rules that no company names could be mentioned. When I met her in Las Vegas she said, “We can’t say company names, they might be our Sponsors” … My thought? “UH-Okay….Certainly don’t want to mention Rape when money is involved.” That comment was not an isolated either, Ellen did not seem to really understand what she was implying with that remark and it she repeated it to me on other occasions.
This is bringing me up to the “U.S. Express Incident”, which will be my next post. These are very importent items to understand how it is that my participation in the Dan Rather Report has inspired Ellen Voie to suddenly have a new priority. that’s right…. She’s got her “EYE” on Harassment.
Interestingly she felt a female member “Overreacted” to a Canadian Trucking Magazine Incident and did not see the validity of the U.S. Express Booth in Vegas passing out her brochures until photos appeared with an article more provocative than the attire.
To have your “EYE” on Harassment, you must understand it and Ellen Voie does not seem to understand that working around lots of Men in a management capacity brings lots of flattery. Perhaps even a false sense of the real world for Women who may be hyper-sensitive from traumas they have endured in the past.
To say a Women Trucker “overreacted” when you do not know about her 20 year history in trucking, or have ever bothered to inquire why she may have reacted so strongly is in poor form. This is not a polite topic, it’s not for the weak at heart. But the time is NOW to FIX it and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
The upcoming Solutions Show on “Ask the Trucker” with myself, Tom Hansen and Tracey Hamm formerly of CRST are meant to help Solve the Issues with people who truly care to make a BETTER Trucking Industry by raising the Standards. This will help all Drivers overcome obstacles.
Make sure you check out the Co-Driver Nightmare Video and Comments from @NJKatwoman I have posted on this site to get and Idea of how complex these issues are. This is not something that should be thrown together.
We need to see that perhaps some organizations are not really in it for the GOOD of others, and this is a very serious issue.