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Archive for December, 2018

I will keep this brief.

In the following court documents from two separate cases involving two separate major entry level truck driver training fleets a number emerged that caught my attention. It is a number not widely cited when we hear about every three months from the trucking lobby industry groups that claim they are suffering from a crisis they call a, “truck driver shortage”.

In the 10 years since I became a truck driver, I have seen over recruiting, low pay, poor and unsafe training, thousands of new people attempting to become truck drivers but being churned through below minimum wage trucking jobs and leaving the industry before they reach the six-month mark. During that time, they work for such low wages they can barely survive but regardless, they move America’s freight and it gets delivered to it’s destination. The business model to use student low wage labor until they quit, use mainstream media and novice journalists to run “truck driver shortage” articles and stories on a recurring basis is a scheme to feed new people into a meat grinder. Some survive, like me, most do not. Even those who might survive that first year may jump from fleet to fleet without fully realizing how they are set up to fail.

Experience has little value in most major fleets represented by the trucking lobby because experience requires the pay and benefits a reasonable person would expect to perform one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs to have. Student truck drivers are a dime a dozen. They are clueless, vulnerable and the job is so invisible, the industry can easily conceal crash rates in student fleets and the turnover rate which is much higher than the industry average which by itself it grossly high.

So, let’s get back to that number.

Here is the testimony from one of the cases:

“Turnover among drivers new to the industry is higher. Further, turnover in Truck Driving schools is often much higher, sometimes as much as 200%.” ~ Tom B. Kretsinger, Jr

The late Tom B. Kretsinger, Jr was a former president and CEO of American Central Transport, he served on the Board of Directors of the American Trucking Association, he was a Chairman of the ATA Litigation Center, the Truckload Carriers Association, and the Missouri Trucking Association. His testimony that cites this turnover rate not widely known to most people who work in the trucking industry appears EEOC v New Prime, Inc. on Page 2-3

When I first read the number, I thought he must have exaggerated. Although I personally saw a system of churning student labor at Covenant Transport and have worked closely with student truck drivers over the past 9 years, I wouldn’t have thought that a turnover rate that high could be so well concealed.

To claim you have a shortage of labor when you have a 200% turnover rate of your labor very simply says you have a horrible place to work!

In August when the organization I founded REAL Women in Trucking received the first documents from our Motion to Intervene to unseal documents in the CRST Sex Harassment case were sent to me, again I stumbled upon this very large turnover rate that is much high than we hear from the trucking lobby organizations.

“Driver turnover rates in the over-the-road transportation industry reach approximately 165% annually. (D-App. 2, Brueck Declaration, ¶4). Given the difficulty posed by the labor market in hiring experienced drivers, CRST focuses on hiring entry-level drivers and offers both in-house and third-party training opportunities. (D-App. 5, Declaration of Laura Wolfe Declaration, ¶4). To keep pace with labor demands and turnover, CRST’s goal is to hire 7,000 drivers per year. (Id.)” (Unsealed Resistance to Motion for Class Certification Notice Regarding Filing of Redacted Documents: Cathy Sellars, Claudia Lopez and Leslie Fortune vs. CRST EXPEDITED, INC., Page 7)

The section above was written by lawyers for CRST based on testimony in the case.

To anyone who has moderate intelligence it is clear to see that these training fleets have developed a model to hire thousands of new people who work over 70 hours a week pulling freight for companies like Boeing, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Alcoa and many others while also working off their tuition, and are paid barely enough to cover their expenses. The company never seems to fill its labor shortage with the thousands of workers it trains which they admit by citing the turnover rate.

Eight years ago I wrote this article comparing the truck driver shortage to the movie Pinocchio and it’s as true today as it was when I wrote it. Then there is the “Qualified” Truck Driver Shortage, this is a little different.

Training fleets like CRST, Covenant Transport, New Prime and other carriers like them do not target experienced qualified drivers. They do not pay well enough to retain them.  Therefore, the types of companies who ONLY hire experienced drivers and ARE truly experiencing difficulty finding qualified drivers must ask themselves a couple questions. Are we paying enough to retain a qualified driver to perform one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs to hold? Do we have a toxic work culture affecting retention? and finally , If you are wondering why so many people are entering truck driver training but they never become qualified truck drivers that apply for experienced only fleets, look n

o further than the major training carriers who are getting special treatment from the FMCSA.

The moral of the story on the “truck driver shortage” is the same as when I wrote about it back in 2010 here.

 

Don’t turn into a Jackass like Pinocchio believing that entering truck driver training will be like going to Pleasure Island. For many people it’s just a way to get donkey’s to work in the salt mines for as long as they last.

 

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