Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Trucking’ Category

Ray LaHood, Anne Ferro, Bill Graves

Name an industry that can get away with leaving a labor force stranded across the United States days before Christmas and hardly get any mainstream media giving it any coverage?

This is the power of controlling media and the trucking industry proved it during December 2009 when Arrow trucking turned off gas cards, bounced paychecks, closed its doors, and left truck drivers stranded.

I decided against a picture of an Arrow Truck for this post but instead I chose this nifty picture of Bill Graves the CEO of the “American Trucking Association” with Ray LaHood & Anne Ferro because they obviously all know each other.

On December 22, 2009 the Christian Science Monitor reported the Arrow closing and the story made its way to Twitter shortly afterwards.  In researching the timeline for this post I noted that the editor has made a comment about the original title. It makes me wonder if someone “contacted them” and a correction to the wording was made. Speaking out about human indignities by the trucking industry seems to be monitored very carefully.

Twitter became quickly a buzz on the 22nd with that initial article. Shortly thereafter a second report via Landline eNews article called “ Nightmare before Christmas ” by Clarissa Kell-Holland was also circulating.

Remarks by the truckers on twitter quickly became heated when it became clear that the twitter tags of @RayLaHood who is the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and frequently tweeted about job creation during that week & the ATA Twitter tag @TruckingMatters remained silent on the Arrow Issue.

Ellen Voie of @WomeninTrucking tweeted an announcement that Anne Ferro of the FMCSA would speak at the “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” but said nothing about Arrow. In a private email I was advised she was very much aware of the situation but for whatever reason did not tweet any articles. I still have those dated emails but some of the remarks are not pleasing about Ellen Voie and they were made by one of her members so I will refrain for now.

Meanwhile others like @HDTrucking tweeted “Arrow Drivers get one heck of a lump of coal for Christmas” in between “Retweeting” things for Hubby Evan Lockridge @LockridgeReport who tweeted he would be doing a show on the 23rd about the Stranded Arrow Drivers.

Individual Truckers on Twitter were tweeting:  “Hope we never see management from Arrow trucking in management jobs in any other trucking company. #Fail 9:52 PM Dec 22nd, 2009” which was just one of the popular “ReTweets” that went on for days. (This was a retweet I copy & pasted from Jami Jones @Shewhoknowstruck )

On Facebook remarks of disgust that no one knew about the drivers went like this: “…I was talking to some at church, they have no clue what just happened! Sad! Some said they would have just brought the truck home. I ask how? Most of these guys had no money. How you going to buy fuel, pay tolls, cross border without cash? Plus they lost all contact with their company!” were made on the newly created Fan Page called “Stranded Arrow Trucking Drivers-Coordinate Efforts Here” which was made by the Landline Staff on Twitter. (The title has since been changed as well as the mission)

In prior projects on twitter such as @JasonsLaw & the Virginia Rest Area Issue , there had been interference by the Landline Staff on Twitter so I would be lying if I said everyone believed that OOIDA was creating the page for anything more than a membership drive. I have included a link above from my previous post on Jason’s Law but at this time I cannot elaborate further.

That afternoon in fact a well known Canadian Trucker had some mixed signals from comments made by Jami Jones the Senior Editor of Landline and challenged her to call into Daniel Audet’sTruck Star Radio” to discuss the Fan Page.

At first she declined but when pressed to show that she truly cared to get the word out through ALL mediums, she agreed and convinced the listeners that the OOIDA Fan Page was an effort to help the stranded drivers and not a membership ploy as we had seen in the past.

I was aware that OOIDA Media had also been calling around. I was on home time, I was very sick with a high fever and my truck starter had died so I had to drive to Denton, Texas to go into the shop. I was actually parked in the mechanics bay for the night on the 22nd and was hesitant to become a fan of the page until I was convinced by Daniel Audet that Jami Jones was sincere. At about 9pm CST I became a fan of the page and forwarded it to MANY people.

Dan Little President of the “Owner Operators United@DDLittle on Twitter had already begun Tweeting & making phone calls on behalf of the Stranded Arrow Drivers.

Dan Little was in close contact through Twitter, Facebook and nightly on “Truck Star Radio” and reported that OOU members were going above the call to assist the Arrow Drivers in getting them home, fed, & get them motels.  The OOU board of Directors also offered a 1 year 100% free membership to all Arrow Drivers.

Within a hour of the Qualcomm message that was received  by the Arrow Drivers telling them that the company had folded the OOU was contacted and that information  was passed on to Bob McCarty and several other national media contacts.  According to Dan Little it was Mr. McCarty who contacted CNN who broke the story worldwide.

On the morning of December 23, 2009 I was received an early morning call from @Longhawl a trusted friend from twitter who has dispelled many misinformation campaigns by  “The Trolls of Trucking on Twitter”.

My friend “Longhawl” was deeply disturbed by the news of the Arrow closing and more so that the ATA had the nerve to sit quietly and saying nothing and doing nothing.  I agreed that the ATA was a despicable example how to represent an industry but the truth about trucking is that this is how truckers are treated and most people could care less.  Longhawl told me he was just plain tired of seeing the arrogance that the ATA displayed toward the hardworking American Trucker and he wanted to help. He asked me why no one was attacking the ATA on Twitter outright and I said that retaliation in trucking is very real so most individuals are intimidated, also much of the trucking media sources are controlled.

In fact as I recal the day the ATA came on Twitter they only followed national media contacts and the publishing partners for the major trucking periodicals are very much “connected”.

Longhawl said “Well I don’t work for the Trucking Industry and I am going to say a few things” I said “Okay, I will ReTweet what you say.” I also introduced Longhawl to Mike Rone of “RMR Consultants” who was working on cleaning up a DAC for a woman trucker named @NJKatwoman .

Mike was disturbed that no one had assisted the drivers by notifying truck stops properly, making sure the drivers who were cut off from the outside world suddenly could make their way home with their belongings for the holidays. I spent a few hours on the phone with both Mike & Longhawl that morning while I awaited the repair on my truck. During that time I saw an Arrow driver try to turn in his keys to the Service Desk and the girl had no idea what he was talking about. Then he went to the fuel desk and she had no idea either.

Mike Rone had called Dallas Radio Station KRLD to get them to cover the story and I spoke to the girl at the fuel desk and told her what was going on. While I was speaking to her another girl walked up and said that the day before an Arrow driver was able to fuel up but the card did not go through so they had to pump out the fuel. Still they did not know that the company had gone belly up nor were they aware that the drivers were stranded. How humiliating is this for a driver who is on his way home for the holidays? They had already received one bounced paycheck and via qualcomm the company told them they were unemployed without notice. A message that said in essence “See Ya wouldn’t want to be Ya”.

The OOIDA Fan Page had numerous offers to help the drivers but there was no rhyme or reason to it. There were carriers offering jobs and rides but in practice that meant nothing more than a free link ad. There were no drivers on Facebook because they were out-of- touch. When companies like Swift & Schneider came forth to offer rides home it sounded grand but in practice how would the Arrow drivers know this? Were Schneider’s drivers advised to go track them down? What if they did see an Arrow driver who was stranded and they needed to go to Florida but the Schneider truck was under a load going to Washington?  Then what? I mean it looked great on the surface but in reality there was not any sort of practical rescue operation being conducted.

Together, Longhawl & Mike Rone created a forum that went live the morning of December 24, 2009 which aimed to sort out offers for assistance from all over the internet to make it easy for the drivers once they were located but not many people ever found that forum. It was submerged before it took off but it was made to help the drivers and that was all.

We had twitter going crazy despite the lack of mainstream media attention. The ruckus of the Stranded Arrow drivers and our constant circulating of the OOIDA fan page link was everywhere you looked. Within hours if you googled “Arrow Drivers” the 2 lone articles were complimented by thousands of additional items which were actual tweets that were going into Google.

Not many people realize that what you post on Facebook it remains in Facebook but on Twitter it escapes the “Twitoshepre” and into the “World Wide Web” which makes it searchable in Google!

The chatter could not be ignored, this was not just truckers on twitter who had jumped onboard, and the news of the Stranded Arrow Drivers was being circulated by concerned citizens from around the world on Twitter who were OUTRAGED!!!!

On the morning of December 23, 2009 “Fleet Owner” magazine put out an article called “Social Media Comes to the aid of Stranded Arrow Truck Drivers” but here’s the thing, these are all ATA skewed publications and it was sort of a slap in the face with some feeble acknowledgement that said: “Yes, we see you are making an impact but we are still not going to do anything about it.”

I personally monitored those tweets in Google regularly and forwarded the increasing stats to interested parties. There were many familiar faces in those tweets who were not only my followers but even my DOG’s followers!

My Damn Dog was doing more for Arrow Drivers than the FMCSA, Women in Trucking or the American Trucking Association! Merry Effing Christmas Truckers!

Okay, so I’m getting a little pissed… Breathe Breathe…

The tweets were very targeted by utilizing “Hashtags”, we had seen success in several projects by doing this method for the Virginia Rest Areas, Pickens Plan and Dog Rescue.

In the future I will detail this but I did go on “Truck Star Radio” and give a tutorial to people who wanted to help.

This was an enormous success and by the 24th I had been introduced to a group of former Arrow drivers and volunteers on Twitter and Facebook who I invited to join “Truck Star Radio” as much as they wanted to tell their true story.

It was not long until reports began coming back that pledges to give help were being ignored and that the OOIDA page was not being managed properly. Still it was an amazing outpouring of people wanting to help. Still today it is inspiring to see all the people wanting to help truckers and it stands as a testament to the power of social media.

In those beginning hours there was truly more offers for help than there was drivers. That was the problem, how would a stranded driver know that they needed to get on the internet?

As I said in the recent “Blog Talk Radio” broadcast I was deeply moved when I observed former Arrow Driver Brandon White organize efforts while enroute to his new job on the greyhound bus.

I was included in a circulating email of volunteers but I did not post publically because I did not want to alert “The Trolls” about my involvement which would derail the cooperation that we thought was taking place.

I have included the radio broadcast link and I don’t want to recap everything here but basically at this time I did not know about Donna Creekmore but learned of her shortly afterwards and her list of drivers.

This list was crucial to weed out the scammers who emerged. The other disturbing thing was that people who were disgusted trying to pledge assistance on the OOIDA board. Some people were reporting they went ahead and gave to some of the designated charities but then some drivers were reporting those same charities either ran out of funds or the told the drivers that they did not meet the criteria to get assistance.

One Arrow driver called the number and was told to go to a homeless shelter!

This was a problem for me and others who felt if Donna Creekmore had verified them as drivers and there were people willing to help assist them they should be matched up, end of story.

Again, I won’t get into all the backroom shenanigans FOR NOW but I did receive the exchanges between OOIDA & the Volunteers and it was not surprising to me who the characters were but still it was disappointing that this crisis was turning into a media power struggle.

Another page on Facebook surfaced on the 24th called the “Ex-Arrow Employee’s Page” and it seemed odd that OOIDA had not been in direct contact with these folks and Donna Creekmore as soon as they appeared on the scene to collaborate.

Donna Creekmore was assisted by a woman named Dana to organize help directly to drivers. I personally called both of them to see who they were because it was true that scammers were coming out of the woodwork on the OOIDA page and it seemed like no one was managing it properly. My own followers on twitter were getting too personally involved and I did not want any of them getting ripped off.

Donna Creekmore was actually in the emergency room with her Husband when I spoke to her, she said she was concerned with getting “her drivers” home. To my knowledge no one from OOIDA had contacted her at this time nor were they aware that Dana, Donna, Brandon and other Volunteers had set up a base of operations to help the actual drivers on from the driver list and match with pledges for help from individuals.

On the Monday after Christmas however the emails were flying. Soon after, Dana set up a third page of Volunteer efforts on Facebook for the Arrow drivers.  Dana continued assisting drivers with volunteers while Donna Creekmore was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

It was an amazing weekend! A huge storm had hit Oklahoma & Texas and shut down I-40. Many truckers were stranded and some were attempting to help stranded Arrow drivers when the storm hit.

Despite my attempt to stay in the background I was compelled to post publically after an OOIDA member called me to dispel rumors about repo men being at truck stops. I also called Freightliner and posted on their Facebook page asking for a public announcement. I did not get a response but it sure brought the trolls out.

Private texts to me by other truckers on twitter asked for me to pass along offers of help and jobs to Donna & Dana because they too did not want to stir up the trolls.

It was already too late; in fact the King of Trolls had posted on the OOIDA page Jan 2nd to stay away from any of the “other groups” and wanted to know if anyone had a concrete list. He had been tweeting with Jami Jones who was ensuring that to him that,  “…/amazing/ isn’t the word for it. It seems like we spend as much time killing rumors as productive good some days. & we have debunked some requests from alleged Arrow drivers needing help. We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck here” but that was not the truth.

There were problems behind the scenes and Jami Jones blogged “Imagine All the People” where she implied there was social media backstabbing which was sort of crazy because all the people I knew of had been up 24/7 tweeting, donating every last nickel they had and making phone calls to help Arrow Drivers while they were in bad shape themselves.

One woman who is a big fan of @TruckinDogKarma was in the ICU tweeting from her phone and had to have it removed from her by her doctor!  She later made phone calls with a partial list and got deeply involved with the missing trucker story when the Mother of that guy poured her heart out to her.

If that were not enough to turn my stomach, on January 5, 2010 the ATA finally remarked on the Arrow driver situation. Like a synchronized swimming event Ellen Voie tweeted “Angels Among Us” which originally had comments on it that have been moderated off but I was sent the copies.

In this article Ellen states she was called by OOIDA to bring home the last Arrow drivers but according to Donna Creekmore there were many drivers who were still not home or had no home to go to.

On this same day OOIDA edited their Mission Statement and Title on the Facebook Fan Page and the ATA Twitter @TruckingMatters account tweets this dumbass remark “Thank you to all the trucking companies working from day 1 to help former Arrow drivers #SupportArrowDrivers #Win “

That was in addition to this tweet right next to it: “TweetsSchneider National encourages former Arrow drivers to apply http://www.schneiderjobs.com #SupportArrowDrivers #trucking”

OY VEY! So those are the Holy Grail of Hope to the American Trucker?  Seems to me every day is media day in trucking!

There was huge lesson to be learned in the Arrow Trucking mess and that is people do care about truckers but they are not getting the information they need to help them.

Many people came together who were formerly divided and eventually worked together.

Good can come out of what happened at Arrow in the sense that an awakening should begin to come about that ordinary people can make a difference. You can gather the rest on your own when your eyes begin to clear like mine have.

Listen to the Blog Talk Radio called “Truckers Home” with former Arrow Trucking Employee Donna Creekmore that aired May 6, 2010
Blog Talk Radio Truth About Trucking "Live"

There were so many individual people to thank it was not possible to remember everyone. If you would like to thank someone please post and let them be recognized.

Read Full Post »

                                       The Truck Stop of the Future

 

Technology is often born of crisis, not because it is the correct thing to do.  Take for instance the knowledge of Alternative Fuel has been around for years yet the general public is just now becoming aware of it.

Recently, I watched some old news reel footage of Henry Ford and George Washington Carver from the 1940’s where Henry Ford took a bat to a prototype vehicle that ran on ethanol and was made from soybean plastics.

Clearly there has always been an awareness that the facet of oil would run dry but back then it was simply more cost effective to shelve the idea of alternative fuels, but for how long and at what long term price?

We are now facing that dilemma as big automakers have had to dust off the hidden technology which they should have done without being forced. Instead they waited until the walls tumbled down upon them and all of America.

Now these same issues are coming to bear on the trucking industry where a number of neglected issues are about to challenge the desire to conduct “business as usual” mentalities.

We all watched the automotive industry that had to be “persuaded” to understand that the right thing and crisis are upon us now.

America is suffering in a way many of us have never before experienced. The heyday of hand over fist profit is over for the time being, we need to work on solutions.

We shipped our jobs away, we buy goods from other countries who don’t like us and we think we can still have our cake and eat it too.

The truth is new technologies bring forth new industries which this country desperately needs. Any businessman who has built an empire from the ground up will tell you to create something new requires risk, investment, determination.

None of the above comes in a pretty package with a cherry on top. This means hard work and anyone who resists the change that is upon us right now to save this country from the mess we have put ourselves in is not doing their patriotic duty.

The trucking industry is one of America’s last Industries on our soil, or is it?

The future for trucking is exciting with many new opportunities depending on how you view things. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Will work be involved? Effort? Money?

Natural Gas provides a way we can move into the future of alternative fuels NOW not when the clock runs out. Hybrid Engines, Solar Auxiliary Power Units (APU)that will put an end to idle emissions are just some of the innovations that will be the future of trucking like it or not.

We have passed the point of keeping things on the shelf because we are at the crossroads of necessity so we have a choice to make new industries for ourselves or let some other countries do it for us who are eager while we stand around and bicker with each other.

About the only argument anyone can offer about why they don’t support Natural Gas is because it will cost money. Just like labor costs money so we shipped our jobs to people who do our jobs for us. Just like American products that everyone wants really cheap so we stopped making stuff here. What we got for those decisions was a $5 4th of July T-Shirt made in Pakistan, Ecuador and India. We got poison lead on children’s toys made in places that make powdered milk for their own people that harm their own babies. But we got it cheap.

It’s not that we don’t have solutions right now, it’s because we tolerate feet draggers who stall inevitable progress by hemming and hawing and whining while capitalists in other countries seize upon our growing ineffectiveness, our petty arguing trying to make our bottom line look better.  Now we come to find out those inflated bottom lines were lies also.

Once upon a time in America we created new jobs, others disappeared such as the man whose job it was to light to street lamps at night. What was that man to do when that darn electric bulb was invented?

You cannot undo innovations, inventions and new technology. Progress is coming to solve our energy woes, but you can miss the boat of opportunity. Who among us is wasting precious time to act upon the numerous new avenues of industry that can now be explored?

I am no scientist, I’m just a truck driver but it’s plain to me that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to adapting to change.

Do you recall the “Monsanto House of the Future”? It was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California from 1957 to 1967, remember that? I don’t, I wasn’t even born yet but I read about this “House of the Future” set in the year 1986 that had such crazy contraptions like a box that cooked your dinner in 60 seconds!

Microwaves, another technology that sat around since the 1940’s but did not experience rapid growth until the 70’s when Japan figured out how to make the American Innovation profitable.

I think you get the picture.

The question is: Who is for American Innovation and profit?  and Who is just out to make profits for themselves forsaking America’s longevity in this time of crisis?

As I have traveled around this past year in various truck stops and visited truck shows I see the trending theme is “GREEN”.

Jump on the “Green Trucking” bandwagon, lets us all sing, hold hands and be partners.

But who is really onboard?

I am and I see ton’s of opportunity for many not just the few who have had the oligopoly up to now.

Perhaps that is the problem, some don’t want to share the new pie that is coming out of the oven?

I don’t see socialism, I see avenues for new entrepreneurs and forward thinking minds to make money from a crisis that is not tapping our shoulder anymore, it is thumping us on our heads.

One common objection I hear about natural gas in 18-wheelers is: “There aren’t enough fueling sites”.  DING DANG!  Opportunity! Hello Naysayers remember when they sold Ethel and Supreme at the filling station?

Perhaps NATSO, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners should add Natural gas to their product line like they did when “ULSD” came out?

What about drivers? I am a company driver; I drive what my company gives me to drive. That is a freightliner with no APU so I have to idle in extreme weather conditions so I can sleep.

I don’t like to Idle, I don’t want to send emissions into the air but I don’t want to suffocate or freeze to death either.

What’s the solution? I can’t force my company to but me an APU, why wouldn’t they want to invest in an entire fleet of Natural Gas Semi’s with Solar APU’s like “Kool Rig APU

I am left to be responsible to pay to idle even though I am an employee. I am left to pay the citation if I idle in a city like Dallas or in California where new idle laws affect drivers not the companies.

My company can charge me to idle or I can pay to go to Idle Aire which is a truck parking area that you pay for outside temperature control and power while you are parked.

The problem is that I shouldn’t have to pay because I am an employee.

Idle Aire is also outdated and needs a facelift; it needs to be reenergized into the 21st century in the same manner our infrastructure and Truck manufacturers need to move into the future,

In my “Green Idea” I talk about parking that has been specially designed for bobtail tractors to plug into a unit to warm the engine block in winter.
Block Heater Post for Engine but not Driver?

I ask questions like: Why are Recreational Vehicles provided with “Shore Power” units in specially designed parking areas so they do not have to idle but not for commercial vehicles?

Truck manufacturers who are addressing the growing demand to create hybrid engines and natural gas trucks should be exploring built in temperature control units that simply need to be plugged into the existing Idle Aire scaffolding.

The existing structure could be retrofitted for Solar and Wind power with a pull down cord that plugs directly into the tractor just as an RV would. This would do away with the cumbersome outdated forced air system.

Just as the “House of the Future” became outdated by 1967 at Disneyland, the Idle Aire concept needs fresh ideas. Today’s drivers have cell phones, laptops, and WIFI or air cards. Most only need temperature control and some electricity.

Also, in extreme weather the engine block is not protected from freezing by using the Idle Aire system. Power Units for Recreational Vehicles but not Commercial?

Truck Parking is an issue; Safety and security of cargo as well as the driver’s life are at risk. Especially during the economic downturn we are experiencing now. This fact has become more evident with the murder of Trucker Jason Rivenburg who parked in an abandoned gas station awaiting his delivery appointment in South Carolina and was shot for $7 that was on his dashboard.

The resulting legislation that has been introduced called “Jason’s Law” HR 2156 & S 971 again offers more opportunities, depending on where you stand.

Safety and Security should be in the forefront of our minds right now, not our personal individual pocketbooks. If you stand to lose a little then use your brain to figure out how to make more in another way because now is the time.

Who is not for Safety and Security? Who is against getting us off foreign oil? Why? Greed? Let’s expose them because if money is the only thing that motivates them they are not seeing the big picture of other opportunities that will spring forth from these changes.

Work will be required, thought and effort.

Whoever is not on this bandwagon is not thinking about the long-term future of this country as a whole, they are only thinking about themselves.

The American people deserve to know who the problem is and who wants to be part of the solution.

Let’s stop forming committees and partnerships to fool each other. This is really just waste of time and money because we are talking about saving our country.

Trucks move everything we use in our daily lives, even when it was made overseas. We know the rail system is being rehabbed in some areas and that eventually long haul trucking will shrink and have to adapt into a regional system.

We know we have energy issues, we have emissions regulations, and we have cheap labor issues.

Regardless of whether the long haul trucker wants to adapt to these changes they should understand there are still opportunities for them also.

If big trucking want to drag their feet to buy natural gas fleets then Owner –Operators should see it as an opportunity to receive special incentives to adapt first. Perhaps even regain some of the strength they once had.

It’s much easier to afford to buy one truck than an entire fleet that’s for sure but wouldn’t the shippers and receivers be in support of the Natural Gas Act and Support those Truckers who invest in America’s long-term future?

What about the truck stops?  What can they offer besides Natural Gas?  How about parking spaces designed by truckers that are actually suitable to park, not just lines on pavement. Poor planning and design makes a number of wasted spaces which are not accessible because the adjacent spot interferes with it, yet these spaces are counted on paper.

We have to admit that industrial planning is lacking, the unsupervised criminal activities and lack of attention to premises is why truck stops have a bad image. Despite the vain attempts rebrand themselves as “Travel Plazas” to appeal to all travelers. This is a good first step but more effort is needed.

Instead of spending money to hinder the passage of a safe trucker parking bill, perhaps thinking of ways to lure people into truck stops besides “up selling” 2 for 1 milk duds to every customer? How about clean toilets, no solicitors banging on the doors at night?  After all, a well rested driver is a safe driver.

How about a fenced dog run area for trucking companions who need a stretch, parking spaces appropriate for flatbeds, car haulers, oversize and Bobtails. I’ve recently seen Starbucks hang up a shingle inside some truck stops as they close some free standing stores to cut costs, I’ve noticed chiropractor, massage therapists and sometimes a barber shop springing up as a rented space. With the growing number of women truckers and female companions who ride along I’m surprised no one has seen the many opportunities to market items to this new demographic. Spending time in a truck stop could mean days but little is offered except unhealthy food, crime and disturbances.

Smartphones save truckers an enormous amount of trip planning time. Applications like google maps and the new iPhone trucker application make life on the road easier by making it easy to locate scales, services and places to go in-between loads. I use a Smartphone myself to locate parking in a shopping plaza in-between loads where I can find a nail salon, a Starbucks and a decent restaurant.

Sound stupid?  Believe it or Not!

What about all the topless joints along the highway that provide trucker parking and a place for a lonely trucker to relax and spend money?

The same little lady who rents space to do a massage at a truck stop may find just as much additional business with a shiatsu massaging chair and a pedicure for the ladies or men for that matter.

Last summer while getting a pedicure by an Asian man he said to me “Do you live around here?” and I said “No, I’m just visiting” and he said “Oh, then you must be a truck driver?” he already knew because he sees the opportunities as more female truckers come in from some downtime.

The times have changed, we can only go forward now and develop new industries.  We need to pinpoint who is preventing our success from moving into the future because this is not just a whim or a fad.

We need to save our country, we need to do our own work and invest in our future. Who is for America and who is not? That’s what I want to know, don’t you?

** I wrote this post originally on “Pickens Plan” in August 2009 where a Trucking Discussion Group has been set up and ALL are invited to learn more about Natural Gas and Big Trucks … It is our Future (PS: it was promptly “Borrowed”” also so if you have heard some of these ideas elsewhere …. Um , I am an Inventor, Creator … I don’t have to borrow and steal. I have a good brain.)

Read Full Post »

                               Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk”

 

Dan Rather "Truck Talk" Follow Up SegmentThe Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk” is now “In the Can” as they say in Show Biz!

Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk

The Showdown was held at “Willie’s Place” for Part 2 “Truck Talk” , the Dan Rather investigative report into trucking. It was not near as much fun as I thought it would be but still I was glad to attend. It was purely coincidence that I had scheduled my home time to go to NASCAR.

After all, I’ve been out on the road since August when I came to Texas for the “Great American Truck Show” where I met up with Hope Rivenburg, the young Widow of slain trucker Jason Rivenburg who had 5 month twins and a 2 year old in tow to promote the federal bill for Safe Trucker Parking called “Jason’s Law”.

That was a busy week where not only was I helping at the GATS Show, I was being interviewed by more than one production. One of which called Bully in the Workplace  had to be coordinated with the Dan Rather Producers to facilitate the time schedule. This production is yet to air but Ellen Voie President of “Women in Trucking” does appear and you can see a Sneak Peak here.

Initially, I believe the Dan Rather Group might have ended up at the ATA sponsored truck show that was scheduled that same weekend in Pennsylvania but I suggested that GATS might give them a better opportunity to see a greater variety of folks involved in trucking. You see, the ATA, OOIDA and “Women in Trucking” all knew Dan Rather was doing a piece on Trucking for a good deal of time. I believe all were very excited at the prospect of meeting the Mr. Rather and having the chance to express what was important in the trucking industry from their organizations perspective.

In the beginning, I believe the content of the show topics filmed may have been so vast that a more narrow focus had to be made. In many of my post interviews after and in between filming I was also providing other links, contacts and information to the producers for both of these reports. This includes directing them to Mr. Tom Hansen who appeared in Part 1 “Queen of the Road” who posted here on this site to Tracy Hamm of the CRST Sex Harassment case. Also, a former Million Mile Driver from my company who was terminated in a snowstorm and others. I also sent them links to post show comments from various forums including negative comments from my First Trainers “Friend” here on this site and other sites where the vast majority was positive and in agreement. There were a few critics but those were mostly my familiar online stalkers.

I also provided links to “Women in Trucking” regarding both Dan Rather Broadcasts but they have since been deleted. I was also alerted that posts by members of another WIT member forum were not moderated to prevent information about the Dan Rather Report getting out in that arena in an attempt to keep this story under wraps.

Since the first broadcast, I received a letter from Ellen Voie revoking my membership to “Women in Trucking” stating that I do not Support their Mission, which is to help Women overcome obstacles they face in the Trucking Industry. The single most popular thread on the WIT site I started with over 3000 reads was deleted but I anticipated her doing that when she realized Dan Rather interviewed me in Dallas so I took screen shots of the entire thread which is some of the basis of the “Bully in the Workplace” issue.

My first online stalker originated from the WIT forum and it is because of the treatment I received at this organization that led me to twitter.  That is how @TruckerDesiree was born.

Truth be known, I joined WIT in spring 2008 and had been reaching out for assistance from Ellen and on behalf of other Women I met during this journey who did not join due to the climate they observed where I was attacked verbally for seeking guidance AFTER I had been through my HR department.

I then joined OOIDA , not for assistance with the Women’s Issues in Trucking but because I was being asked to comment on many things trucking from my popularity on twitter and I was not educated in these matters enough to do so. I spent a good amount of time trying to gain knowledge or redirect people from twitter to the people at Landline Magazine who are also on Twitter to assist in some of these questions but they were not as interactive as I am.

Many times I called on the phone and spoke to a guy at OOIDA who emailed me articles and I would pass them along. Sometimes when I provided these articles I was attacked as with the case of the Dear VDOT Story in Appomattox News regarding the closure of Rest Areas.

There is a lot of unknown yet to be told history to this tale and I advised the Dan Rather Producers to “Please make the investigative reports LESS about ME and more about what is happening to people who have no voice or ability to speak to the outside world about what is going on in the trucking industry”.  My position has always been that it is futile to discuss the issues that need correction in a way only truckers understand because they already know the problem. The answers lie in making the story interesting enough for non-truckers to care about what is happening.

The ATA, WIT and OOIDA have known about me and my Student Trucker Story for awhile now. They also knew Dan Rather was doing an  Investigative Report. I believe ATA knew I was in the story but I think it caught WIT and OOIDA by surprise. This is an OLD story but it is a NEW twist to the story to a very interested NEW audience. There are many people being affected because Americans are desperate for work and the trucking industry is all too happy to take advantage of this crisis. These folks are searching for help.

Many Owner-Operators do not see the relevance to this story but they should because the mega companies with their confused disenfranchised cheap labor force of desperate people are seeking a chance at HOPE , they are hungry. Cheaper Labor will be the demise of Owner-Operators unless they pay attention. The Mexican Truckers that were mentioned in the broadcast making .13 cent a mile? That is what Student Truckers make and they are a dime a dozen but some of them figure out what is going on, like me.

OOIDA VP Todd Spencer was not aware I had joined OOIDA when he came over to shake my hand at the taping of Part 2 “Truck Talk” by Dan Rather. He did congratulate me on a “Good Job” but there is much more to the Student Trucker Industry than just my story and that is why I will persist to help get other Student Trucker Stories and Women Trucker Stories OUT to the public.

The public is interested in Truckers right now like they have not been before because they can understand this topic whereas other issues they do not. That is why the message has been lost despite the fact that these things have been said before for many years.

While it was not planned that I attend this forum initially, the coincidence that I was in Texas at the same time prompted an invitation for me to be present. At the time I was told about the show schedule, I was sitting in Bentonville, Arkansas awaiting a load home to Texas. I waited much longer than I have ever had to wait for a load home with no word whatsoever. I did not understand the silence but when I found out about the behind the scenes wrangling it made sense to me.

I was happy that Allen Smith from “Ask the Trucker” was invited to attend and that the Dan Rather Producers facilitated him to participate, after all, it was Allen Smith of “Ask the Trucker” who reached out to help me. He and his Wife Donna provided me a place to tell my story and not be moderated away. It was my story “A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker” that captured the interest of producers during their research of other blogs and organizations in the trucking industry.

My story is based on events and people I met as a student trucker. It has adventure, humor and triumph as I overcame obstacles set before me from the system seemingly set up for failure which is the Student Trucker Industry that I encountered. It is based on actual events from documented complaints I submitted to my company that were dismissed in some cases. Other situations I was told were being investigated but were in fact not being investigated. Because I kept meeting students with similar stories I began to write even though many of my obstacles were behind me. On Dec 16 2009, I will have 2 years of accident free driving with no citations despite everything I have endured. That is from sheer persistence and determination that I did not take “NO” for an answer. For every roadblock set before me I found an alternate route around those obstacles.

Michael H. Belzer who appeared in “Truck Talk” himself wrote a book about the Student Trucker Industry named appropriately “Sweatshops on Wheels” his book was written way before I came along. Indeed this is an old problem that has been long covered up.

I have to commend “Werner” Chief Operating Officer Derek Leathers for appearing and being open to a discussion. I wish that more companies had the courage to discuss suitable solutions for more effective training system for student truckers and personal safety for Women entering the industry which keeps being shoved to the side.

I was surprised by the opening statements by Mr. Rather about the ATA backing out. The evidence suggests they knew I was in Texas and were told I would be present. Even though I would not be on the forum, I did promise to be sorta kind of nice and sit in the audience with my hands folded on my lap. The ATA remarks about me not being credible and so forth are in my opinion a “catch all” statement. No one has contacted me from either my company or the ATA to request evidence or comment after the broadcast. The documents provided to Dan Rather Producers are copies my company has had for sometime, how honest they are being with the ATA and the fact that I have been reaching out for assistance at WIT during the past year and a half might be more of a reason they would like my story to go away.

OOIDA Life Member Miles Verhoef was on-hand, he also did not know I was an OOIDA Member prior to this taping, nor seem to care.

I sat with veteran Women Truckers off to the side and they were quite happy with these issues coming to light, after the ending of the show I was rather touched by an older Woman and her Husband, both OOIDA members who you can see sitting in the front row, she came up and grabbed both my hands and said “Thank You so much for speaking up”. She was thrilled someone was listening to what is going on out here. THAT my friends …. (And enemies) is what makes me do the things I do and say the things I say.

I am not motivated by money or sponsors or of fame. I am motivated by the ATA not showing up and answering questions about me to my face. I am motivated by my company who is willing to put more effort into a media packaged letter about their “Commitment to CARE” and hide me from other drivers with the same complaints as mine rather than address the obstacles student truckers and experienced drivers face from their system. I am motivated by Ellen Voie who persistently misleads about her intentions and priorities. I am motivated by the drivers I meet everyday who wish someone would not only listen to them but understand the complex array of issues occurring out here which indeed affect highway safety, national security and human dignity.

The day following the show I returned from my home time, I had 2 preloads waiting for me and got a third shortly afterwards. I also had a bad headlight that keeps blowing. My company policy is to go into a terminal for repairs to save money which is understandable with this economy. Being the “Team Player” that I am, I picked up my load in Texas “ON time” and advised through my QUALCOMM I would stop by our Hutchins terminal which was very close to me to have the issue fixed.

The response was: “Can’t we go to a truck stop and get a bulb?” My suspicion as I had written earlier in my Qualcomm was that this was a deeper issue because the bulb kept blowing and this particular terminal did the prior work last month so my intent was to get our mechanics to investigate their work to save our company money.

In trucking though you have to “read between the lines” on the Qualcomm which I have come to refer to as “Hot Potato”. They say something trying to you in order to provoke a response. You can only get rid of the “Hot Potato” by using special “Codewords” to get them to either go silent or move on to another subject.

I rarely interact with my current dispatcher. I am aware someone else has perhaps advised some of his word choices to me and I have a pretty good idea who it is. My dispatcher has never been privy to my student trucker story nor to the previous drama I endured in my other fleet, I feel sorta bad for him because he does not know what is going on and he is a good dude.

Anyways, three days later, Two $16.00 bulbs, a stop at a TA for a temp fix which delayed my schedule resulting in being un-dispatched from a load and a trip to Freightliner for a repair because TA could not complete the work. Here I am still dealing with that headlight issue that I should have stopped by the terminal to have repaired. What does this all mean?

Well, first go round a fleet Qualcomm was sent out prior to the Dan Rather broadcast telling our drivers not to speak to any media following the show if they were approached and for them to contact …. Get this… The HR Lady from my Student Trucker Story if they had questions. AS IF!  Here is a resource about HR Departments so educate yourself about that so you understand better. “How Organizations Empower Bully Bosses

So I suspect they didn’t really want me around other drivers so that they would not know that there is a second broadcast. See the way issues disappear in trucking is to ignore them, deny they exist and say the source is not credible. That’s the way it is done INSTEAD OF coming out and FIXING the problem.

I have never asked for special treatment, I only wanted to pay $5500.00 to learn to operate a truck safely. I am not the only one in the world who feels the same, to the contrary. I am not the only Woman who has been badgered for sex, left in the desert and lied to that some investigation was occurring when it was not.

I am not the only driver who is upset about idle policies that charge drivers when the Smart Way EPA award is being accepted for reducing emissions when in fact driver’s don’t have APU’s or proper bunk heaters.  The truth is driver’s are afraid to be charged by our employer to stay warm in winter that’s why the emissions are down! I am not the only driver upset about forced Per Diem and the DAC reporting system hanging over your head which has so many allegations of False Reports to keep drivers quiet.

I did live to tell the tale and I had a few talents that ole HR Lady never anticipated … I can write and communicate to the entire world from a PDA one letter at a time. And Guess What? THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO CARE ABOUT RAISING THE STANDARDS FOR TRUCKERS EVEN IF THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY DOES NOT!

It seems I am also an Inspiration for Ellen Voie, she is beginning to address the hard questions , albeit with my research. On November 11, 2009 at 4am I posted an intriguing article about another industry experiencing similar challenges for Women on a new Twitter account called @WomenTruckers I followed Ellen who blocked it and me but not before she lifted one of the articles for her forum which she posted November 11, 2009 at 9:43 am  on “Women in Trucking

This is not the first time this has happened where what I wrote was “borrowed” by Ellen Voie.

I Support “Women in Trucking” but I do not believe in “Selling” personal safety, this should be free information. Especially when the ones you need to protect yourself from are in your own company and if one of those companies is a “Women in Trucking” Sponsor, that’s sort of a conflict of interest now isn’t it?

Let’s spell that out a little. If the ATA and WIT are working together and Violence is occurring to Women who are entering trucking in their student phase and ATA says I am not credible and WIT says I don’t support their mission yet they are trying to make a “Best Practices Guide” with the EEOC, to what? Sell to companies in a way in the form of sponsorships?  That sorta sounds like “Vinny” coming by some “Mom & Pop” shop saying if you pay me , I will make sure Guido my cousin won’t break into your store”. Preventing Violence toward Women & Men as they enter the Trucking Industry, keeping people SAFE should be FREE. The trucking industry should do it willingly not spend money to cover it up and fight it. What is wrong with you people?

All of the links on this WordPress are to provide free resources to anyone who wants to learn more. I have always been good at collecting information, research, networking and managing difficult people …. I just want to drive a truck right now.

I have learned from the non profit , women in trucking it means nothing except someone is getting a paycheck and they aren’t doing anything to help the people they are collecting membership fees from.  WIT does not represent REAL Women Truck Drivers who are the kind I have met that have huge hearts and vast knowledge.

See Y’all at MATS for the Salute to Women behind the Wheel!

Read Full Post »

TA  in Indiana on TwitPic

Read Full Post »

Parked for the Night on TwitPic

Read Full Post »

Driving onto the Scale I have to be careful, its Narrow on TwitPic

I have to be careful,  it’s narrow.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts