The driver shortage is back so they say. But if you talk to a veteran trucker they will tell you there never was one. If you will recall the ATA said there was no longer a shortage but rather a glut of drivers when “Queen of the Road” was aired. That was the first of 3 so far investigative reports into trucking from Dan Rather Report on HDNet.
If you have kept up to date with my previous posts my feeling was that this was linked to selling loans & collecting commissions first by trucking recruiters with a disregard for your success as a student trucker. (Dan Rather Report “Mind Your Loan Business”)
Of those who can secure either a personal loan or receive government funding to go to truck driving school, most will not make it past the first year, but who cares if you are in the business to sell loans. Insurance is the reason, so they say that a new trucker must be funneled into the handful of student trucking fleets regardless if you grew up in a trucking family and can already drive. For the rest of the population who have somehow found themselves entertaining the idea of becoming a trucker this may not be such a big deal but don’t get to confident, many of you will not make it either.
Student trucking fleets exist on an enormous amount of government money and funding, it’s sorta funny that the jobs bill is coming up and POOF! The Driver shortage has reappeared.
Student Truckers work cheap, as they should in order to learn the job of trucking but you should understand that trucking cycles through cheap labor just as every other industry does & you are expendable from the second the government cheese stops on your head.
I have just passed my two year mark in trucking and in a good economy it would be wise to go to a fleet where I am paid better but the truth is that those companies I have aspired to apply to are not hiring, many trucking companies are still struggling to stay afloat. I got my experience now and even though I am on a cushy dedicated fleet I only make 27.5 cents per mile, I work about 55 plus hours per week but I don’t get paid by the hour, I get paid by the mile and they have not been the 2400 average lately.
New regulations like CSA 2010 will definitely force out many drivers making room for new recruits who will do things the new way. Teaching an old dog a new trick is not a priority it seems in trucking so with new regulations and the movement to paperless logs, many drivers will be unable to adapt.
For new students, I recommend you start becoming educated now because many recruiters, CDL Schools and Training companies will not be interested in your long-term success because there are incentives to see you get that loan, work cheap and then quit after 6 or 7 months.
This makes room for another student and leaves you with less than the amount of experience you need to go to another company, despite what they tell you when you are in the planning stages to enter this career.
Advertisements like “Jobs for Felons” and “Workforce Investment Act” Vouchers for “Displaced Homemakers” give you hope of a new life and are designed to make you think the trucking industry is the goodwill ambassador in a depressed economy.
The training environment is focused on moving freight cheap, not learning how to be succesfull in the long run, that is up to you alone. I still love my job but I don’t make enough money to have a home or a car. I cannot afford to take much time off so I have not seen my family or friends much in the past 2 years. I have a good dispatcher and that is really hard to leave after all the shit I have been through. A good dispatcher to me means, he does not tell me to do things that are illegal or unsafe. Check Out this recent case against Prime Inc and you will know what I mean. “Prime Inc pays $75,000 in punitive damages”
My dispatcher does not hold miles over my head if I do not comply to “I need a Favor” which usually means break the law and risk my CDL. He does not push me in bad weather and I think he knows I have good judgement that I won’t puss out while at the same time I know when to shut it down. He answers the phone when I call him and he is polite. I am polite to him as well even if I am having a bad day out here. I know he has a huge fleet and gets yelled at all day long. I don’t take my shit out on him and he does not take his out on me. Now that I said that publically he might start being an asshole, who knows? But I will just have more time to write if I am not rolling …I adapt.
The trucking industry does not like the term “Starve Out”, they prefer “Squeezing Out”, same thing… that means miles are withheld and you are left to sit until you quit on your own. Therefore you have abandoned the truck and this can go on your record which makes it hard to get another job.
You probably won’t be able to collect unemployment because you voluntarily quit. The trucking industry rarely fires people, they provoke you to make a jackass out of yourself. You never hear about trucking layoffs because then they could not justify the “Driver Shortage” and 125% turnover rate. Most people leave so discouraged they do not fight back so that’s why this has been going on for over 20 years.
Remember in the 1940 Disney movie Pinocchio that the little wooden boy is led astray many times with offers that lead him to troubles? Honest John & Gideon act as recruiters who sell the idea Pleasure Island is a voluntary vacation where there is unlimited freedom and bad behavior is rewarded. (Please read the definition of Pleasure Island I have linked here for you)
Remember the quiet sinister Coachman who sat and waited in the background for the boys to make “jackasses” of themselves?
The Coachman only had to sit back and wait for the boys to morph into donkeys so he could sell them off to work in the salt mines. The final morphing process was when they stopped being able to talk and could only HEE HAW! HEE HAW!
What a great gig for the Coachman, Honest John & Gideon! The “know it all” Lampwick was there giving all his expert advice. Remember it was Lampwick who turned into a Jackass first but Pinocchio was able to escape.
But say, remember the Coal Mine Ponies? Wouldn’t that be like a Salt Mine Donkey? Ponies were used in coal mines to replace Child & Female labor did you know that? Despite the Ponies being considered an investment to be cared for they were sometimes overworked. Child Labor Laws & Animal Welfare Laws are designed to prevent explotation.
Labor Laws are a son of a bitch for the bottom line, & in America, we really like cheap stuff so that’s why most of the stuff we buy is made in places that don’t have labor laws, that’s called “Outsourcing” and you should keep that in mind when you shop.
Trucking is a little harder to outsource but these are smart cookies here in this industry. Did you know that Truckers are considered “Unskilled Labor” ? That helps justify the wages, but wait a second? Unskilled Truckers driving 18 wheelers down the highway next to some family doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, how about you?
If you are about to embark into a career into trucking, don’t believe one word about the “Driver Shortage” your recruiter tries to sell you. Make sure you call training companies and companies who require experience and ask them about their hiring area, you may find you can be hired as a student but not as experienced from the same area.
Criminal records and/or driving records are also a factor. You might be able to get a loan or funding but not a job and NO REFUND!
If you are a Woman you have extra worries seeing how the “No Sex, No Pass & Get Out” Climate still exists in trucking & retaliation is alive and well in many companies, including faith-based.
Make sure you check the “Rip-Off Report” for prospective companies and you can try “Driver Match” to interview Trainers. A good trainer word of mouth will hopefully get some of the companies to be more pro-active on conduct training.
Remember that recruiters talk a different story to experienced drivers because students are Ching Ching and the risk might be worth it to these big fleets who carry their own insurance. This is a math equation many qualified individuals are still trying to wrap their head around.
Also, you should know that it is harder to get hired with a record, driving issues & health issues and some companies have agility or lifting requirements your recruiter or CDL School will not disclose. Always remember as a student you are a cheap labor force so even if you get a foot in the door be prepared for “squeeze out” around 6 months with nowhere to go and a student loan to pay.
Even if you make it to the 2 year mark like I have, not many places are hiring. More pay doesn’t nessesarily mean anything if its irregular miles that are not a guaranteed average. If you have a corrupt dispatcher that is a big tradeoff because this is truly your support system while you are out on your own.
Realistically you can expect about $35,000 your first year. My second year we got 3 pay cuts so I made about the same. My insurance and benefits have also been cut. The cost to live on the road and maintain a residence is not possible on this income. If you have a family I do not recommend becoming a trucker. The divorce rate is high and so is the affair rate. These things are not worth it if you calculate that you will be expected to work 70 hours a week and not be paid by the hour.
If I run 2400 miles which I rarely get these days at 27.5 that is $660 gross but lately it’s been half of that on the average. Those are the keywords “On the Average” that makes planning hard. Takeout food, cell phone and insurance and that does not leave much to justify being out 3 months at a time.
These are things recruiters don’t want you to know because they “Don’t want to scare anyone off”. I believe there are plenty of people who are like me and can make a life wherever they are but why lie to people who cannot afford the risk of being treated like a jackass?
I recently saw an ad of two people giving a testimonial they made $55,000 last year, but understand that trucking ads are intentionally misleading. What you have to see below the surface is that they were a married team driving couple. That means they have one income, don’t need to go home and the truck rolls 24/7 when freight is good. They live in a box together, which is quite difficult for anyone.
If you can live on very little, you are willing to risk your life working all sorts of weird hours. Be on a tight schedule, have the ability to listen and learn and want a challenge I highly recommend trucking.
It will be up to you to research the obstacles of the enormous amount of recruiting ads promising “Pleasure Island” scenarios. Your cheap labor is wanted in trucking to squeeze out experienced drivers who have few options to survive in this industry.
This is how it works so when you meet Honest John, Gideon, or Lampwick when you enter this industry, make sure you understand the “Coachman” is lurking in the shadows waiting for you to morph into a HEE HAWING Jackass that won’t talk back.
If you are seeking information from people who care about your success visit “Ask the Trucker” & Become a FAN on Facebook of REAL Women Truckers where you can meet Real Truckers & ask questions to help you understand the obstacles before you get yourself involved in a loan.
If you are a Trucking Industry Professional and want to hear what drivers are saying you are also welcome to become a fan but remember this is my turf so I won’t be having any strong-arm bullshit corporate mumbo jumbo.
You are invited to listen and learn.
That is all…..