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Posts Tagged ‘Sexual Harassment’

Here is some personal insight on why there is a sudden 2015 “image” of Women in Trucking campaign targeted at women truckers. Perhaps the “image” that needs improvement the most is industry executives, including the women who colluded to cover-up sexual harassment and discrimination in entry-level driver training carriers.

2014 was a year of milestones for the REAL Women in Trucking which was founded in response to the lack of responsible representation from the trucking industry. We finally launched our membership organization and experienced a number of transitions, triumphs,and bittersweet moments. Each achievement, no matter how small has moved us a little closer to the organization we wish to become.

The big news on December 23, 2014 was that an appellate court overturned the $4 Million fee award granted to CRST Van Expedited in the Class Action Sex Harassment Case. Here is the link: “Universal Finding” that EEOC claims against CRST Trucking are without foundation fee award reversed“.

The history of the legal debacle that served injustice to so many aspiring women truckers is worthy of a suspense motion picture script. Here is the synopsis> Poorly educated , disenfranchised women struggling to make a new life for themselves, driven by faith and determination enter truck driver training. They naively believe that if they work hard and show aptitude for the work, they can live a life of freedom from office shackles, the loneliness of empty nest syndrome or escape from toxic relationships. Alas, something sinister is underfoot, a corporate system set up for failure, a training system chock full of internal support that does not work, trainers and co-drivers who are empowered by a weak misconduct reporting system and a female trucking student population that are viewed as “fresh meat” , an opportunity for predators and controls freaks. A potential victim to be isolated for selfish pleasures. Not all of the victims are women, the men rarely report the abuse and the few courageous women that make it through the trucking obstacle course to reach out for help find they are shouted down into silence by seasoned female drivers. Intimidated into silence by female executives and organizations who accept sponsor dollars from the most offensive carriers. The road to becoming a qualified lady truckers becomes an abyss for those who dare to “STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT ON INJUSTICE“. (more…)

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kristine M. Gobbo

561-463-0777, Kristine@spectrum-pr.com

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. Launches to Advocate for Urgently Needed Industry Changes while Supporting Female Truckers

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (February 11, 2015) – The promise of a fresh start and great pay draws thousands of people, including many women, to become truck drivers, but fundamental flaws in the driver recruiting and training process are putting female truckers, and all drivers on major highways, at risk. A newly launched trade association, REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. (RWIT), is working to change the industry from the inside out, and seeks the community’s help to raise awareness and support for issues that put drivers in danger.

RWIT was initially formed in 2010 by female truckers to protest poor conditions that were not being effectively addressed by the trucking industry. The women found the driver training process to be a harrowing experience, as they received little training, even driving tractor-trailers without proper instruction. Worse, training often included being paired with drivers who verbally and physically abused the women, and made aggressive sexual advances. (more…)

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The following post includes excerpts of a graded class project I wrote for a non-profit fundraising class on the questionable ethics of non-profits. I received an “A”.

The topic was an analysis of the WIT organization and I will be publishing more such graded paper excerpts in the coming weeks.

I hope you will take the time to consider my observations.

The Women in Trucking Organization (WIT), is designated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit.

Mission: Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.

The organization website states they are an active group that finds opportunities to promote the accomplishments of women in the industry. While the organization states the mission is to represent Women, membership is open to both Men and Women who currently work in the industry or those seeking to enter it.

The WIT website states that supporting the organization helps them to provide needed resources to encourage Women to become employed in the trucking industry, and that membership dues will help motivate” the transportation industry to look at any obstacles that might prevent Women and Men from entering and remaining in trucking. Some of the items mentioned that WIT has determined to be obstacles are restroom facilities at loading docks and ergonomically designed truck cabs.
In a recent article the President of the WIT organization stated that she would not come between drivers and carriers. (Jakl, 2013) (more…)

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In June I received a call from some veteran Women Truck Drivers who had grown weary of waiting for any significant issues to be addressed by the non-profit organization called “Women in Trucking”.  They had grown increasingly upset that the credentials for some of the Women representing the organization were less than accurate.

For five years they, like myself have seen nothing but Facebook and Twitter posts thanking sponsor after sponsor for joining up and providing funds to the organization without anything solid to list as achievements for change or to foster an atmosphere of inclusion.

Yes, President Ellen Voie’s salary has more than doubled which has apparently afforded her the luxury to buy herself a plane and throw a public tattoo party for less than a dozen others but what about the female truck drivers who thought she going to lead the charge to have them recognized with respect?

While offensive WIT carrier member sponsors like CRST Van Expedited continue to have allegations about them on their unethical lease programs, the massive sex harassment case, plus a million dollar judgment against them for former female trainee, Karen Shank they still have not implemented any intelligent system for students in distress to find assistance from a qualified person.

CR England, who I wrote about abandoning a female student two years ago became a Women in Trucking member after I made public the incident on the http://www.REALWomeninTrucking.com blog and “Real Women Truckers” Facebook page with the help of other veteran drivers. Ellen Voie did not reach out to the abandoned female who was then living in her car in a Wal-Mart parking lot following her CR England training experience but she did reach out to CR England for sponsor dollars. Have they changed their ways? Not according to a recent trainee who was cornered by her phase two male trainer and stated that she never heard of Women in Trucking before I asked her how the incident was handled on a recent Women Truckers Network Weekly phone conference.

This morning I met another recent CR England female student who alleges that she was asked to run hazardous materials when she did not hold a hazardous materials endorsement, she has been driving less than 6 months. She also told me that she had been shut down for running bad equipment by the DOT but told by CR England to roll anyways. She is now at another carrier and was able to get out of her lease contract by threatening breach of contract due to the poor equipment. Still, she said she has lost her car because of the poor pay and other conditions she experienced since entering truck driver training. She told me that she picked up a recruiting magazine and saw a female trainer she recognized in a CR England advertisement that she actually had as a trainer. This female student claimed the female trainer spoke more about her boyfriend woes than providing good training to her. We talked about how important good female mentors are and why the Women Truckers Network is so important for Women entering truck driving.

No appropriate sexual misconduct training is being offered at training carriers although volumes of free material has been sent directly to these carriers and to Ellen Voie personally over the past 5 years. Much of the material from working female drivers employed at training carriers who have the most high profile issues with sexual misconduct and are sponsor/members of Women in Trucking.

So what became of all the free material? The only thing produced that we can identify has been an ultra-secret anti-harassment document that is only available to the highest paying sponsor members. Free material was offered and now it is only for sale?

Personal safety of women entering truck driver training should not be for sale to the highest bidder, it should be free to all who want the information. Ellen Voie was provided free material for the good of all drivers and to protect Women entering truck driver training so that they could be safe and successful. It was given in good faith that Ellen Voie would do the ethical thing but she has failed to deliver.

Truck carriers have a requirement for Smith System classes and recertification for hazardous materials knowledge but in the year 2012, the year of the “War on Women” political football, a sexual harassment policy and teaching session as to what that means exactly is still non-existent although different genders are supposed to live and work together in a box the size of an elevator.

Ellen Voie made in clear in her Question and Answer on the Real Women in Trucking blog that WIT is NOT a driver organization, yet she has persisted to assemble Women drivers in her annual photograph to use for promotional materials. Each year, her personal income increases even though the number of Women truck drivers has decreased at her event. Is it because some have begun to realize they are being tricked to stand for a photograph that permits Ellen to use their image to garner more income for herself without doing anything to help the female driving population?

I attended the 1st Salute to Women behind the Wheel and I brought 2 other Women with me. One who was a former CDL holder but had no valid driving credential at the time of the event. The other Woman was never a CDL holder. Both were offered the chance to attend the Salute to the Woman behind the Wheel.

One was given an award for having over a million safe miles, though no one checked her credentials to validate her claim or if she even had a valid driving credential at all. The second Woman caused a disagreement in the Women in Trucking booth because she had previously made derogatory comments about Ellen Voie’s credentials to represent Women in any capacity.  While I agreed with the observation, it was true that this Woman was not an actual truck driver. (Ellen Voie has never been a truck driver but got a CDL and wrote a book about it, she has yet to pull an actual load) I clarified that the second Woman was not ever a CDL holder at the event but the second Woman was determined to be recognized despite her cloudy credentials.

The truth though was that the credentials for many of the Women, including those in top honored spots have been in question since the first event and subsequent events. Miles have not verified, credentials were not checked, nor safety records. This information comes from my own personal experience and private conversations with the three Women in the front row of the photo widely used to promote Ellen Voie’s non-profit organization. There is no way to tell how many of the Women are actual CDL holders or if they are spouses of truck drivers because no accurate credential records were kept yet the photo was supposed to be for the Guiness world record which would invalidate it if there had been enough Women standing for the photo.

These Women stood for the photo because they thought they were making history and now many feel duped. I spoke to the people a Guinness World records recently and I am convinced no adequate procedure was followed at any Salute to the Women behind the Wheel event to appropriately validate the credentials to break a record to assemble the most female truck drivers.

The three Women in the front row of the photo from the 1st salute confirmed this to me from their experience with the event. Two are founders of the “Women Truckers Network” Weekly free phone conference events and the other is Ingrid Brown.

Women in Trucking has become a “buy a logo” non-profit organization and sadly this negates the integrity of any carrier who is associated with one of the carriers that are recently engaged in sexual harassment litigation that include rape and assault allegations in training.

Ellen Voie has persisted to seek Department of Justice Violence against Women grants for more funding to her organization when it is her sponsors that commit the most reported violence against women entering truck driver training.

Madeleine Albright Quote: “There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”

My question: What about Women who use other Women?

 

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Women entering trucking are at higher risk of meeting obstacles that hinder their success because this male dominated environment is lacking in accountability.

Unethical behavior and misconduct is generally targeted at those least able to fight back, this is the obstacle I have seen most frequently for truck driver students, especially Women.

Sweeping things under the rug like sexual misconduct in truck driver training carriers has created a big lump in the rug. The CRST Sex Harassment case is an example of the ignored lump that eventually created a hazard so great many were harmed. While some claims may have been frivolous, some valid claims are sadly caught in the mess.

The failure falls upon the carrier who did little to properly train their trainers and the industry who looks the other way.

Truck driver training does a poor job to prepare student candidates to become qualified drivers. For females, the highly unusual expectation of the living arrangements can be dangerous.

With the recent rash of reports on the EEOC V. CRST Sex harassment case I was at first stunned that it took until 2012 for the Associated Press to widely cover this massive case, many of the incidents occurred in 2005. It has been sparsely reported on by mainstream media and mostly ignored by trucking media, including OOIDA , trucking radio programs on SIRIUS, publications widely distributed at truck stops where truck drivers might read about this case and trade publications that might make the industry more accountable by creating pressure from other sectors for carriers like CRST to clean up their act.

The recent barrage of reports note that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had filed a “friend of the court brief”. If you are not aware, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the former head of the American Trucking Association, if that does not SCREAM of politics I do not know what more one would need.

Perhaps, this story is all over because some other industry with as much clout as big trucking wants to rattle some cages? Maybe they could care less about Women or the EEOC case. Maybe it’s merely a power struggle between big rail and big trucking OR big labor and labor crushing, I don’t know but it is an issue that should be addressed.

Just 3 days before the AP broke this story, Ellen Voie the self-appointed corporate apologist for big trucking thanked CRST for renewing their corporate membership yet I received a letter from a CRST female student in distress just a few months back. I was also advised that remarks in court documents about an internal CRST crisis line which was somehow the remedy for their “issues” was no longer being used. (more…)

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R.E.A.L Women In Trucking

I wanted to take the time to introduce the web site R.E.A.L. Women in Trucking.  It was born as a result of what I saw lacking elsewhere and it has most certainly set the stage for what is to come.

In an effort to provide free self-help resources for fellow truckers & prospective student truckers the site is a place we can help ourselves to overcome obstacles in the trucking industry and network to others.

Social media has been amazing to get my story out and it has drawn other organizations concerned with workplace bullying to take an interest in the way truck drivers are treated and trained.

I have also been working on locating other useful links to use for research and employment law information.

Being “REAL” as opposed to unreal is about as plain as I can say it but I wanted to take it one step further by making the word “REAL” an acronym for what the mission is all about.

R. – Reaching Out

E. – Encouraging Others

A. – Achieving Personal Success

L. – Leadership

There is very little guidance by the trucking industry leaders or organizations to assist student truck drivers going from CDL School to their training carriers so that they can become successful, safe truck drivers.

The internet is full of misleading ads and the plethora of associations and organizations make it all the more confusing because they are not being clear on what their true income base relies upon.  Advocacy, insurance sales, recruiting?  It seems like everyone is trying to sell you the magic potion for a problem they have a hand in creating.  That is why this industry is so shady.

For experienced drivers and students alike, being sold your personal safety , your job security, your chance to sleep comfortable & safe, your ability to protest erroneous information placed on your DAC report.  It becomes a full time job in itself to keep up with it all.

As you become educated on this industry you begin to see that each obstacle has a smiling snake oil salesmen ready to sell you a remedy, it does not take long to see that problems created for drivers are another inner industry which are meant to get every nickel back from you that you worked so hard to make.

It takes a lot of effort to sort the good information from the heaps of garbage on the internet about becoming a truck driver and how to fight back.

As I have met other veteran women truck drivers I found that they are nothing like the few I encountered from other organizations who sought only to argue and stalk me around the internet.

I found instead that REAL Women Truckers who have huge hearts, they work hard, live quietly and mind their own business.  Many have kept their lips zipped about some terrible things they have seen out here but they are eager to be recognized and see this industry clean up its act.

In speaking to some of these women I found the same topics popping up.  Some of these gals have been driving since the seventies and started as teenagers learning from their Fathers.

One thing they would like to see changed is how women in the trucking industry treat them.

In my own story I encountered women who had the power to treat drivers fair but chose not to and what these veteran women drivers share is the same power issue.

Discussing various scenarios it seems to stem from a couple different things. We need to understand that a woman who works in-house is probably getting a good deal of male attention because this is male dominated industry.  After awhile, an immature woman might think she is superior to other women because she’s being told what a sweetheart she is all day.

There are a number of issues when in-house affairs with superiors or students begin to spill onto the driving population because these people start to become intoxicated with themselves and this can create a hostile atmosphere.  They have created an intimate atmosphere in the workplace and everyone else is having to suffer because of it. 

The self-confidence of a woman trucker is undenieable but when unintentionally caught in the crosshairs  of an in-house ego trip there is going to be a clash.  Women in support positions can and do retaliate to show superiority electronically or verbally.

There are women in the trucking industry who seem to want to treat women truckers as substandard and this needs to change.

These hostile work situations are  common with women as the try to compete with each other in male dominated industries.  What they should be doing is working together and leave their egos aside.  This idea was the inspiration for the post I made called “Wild West Women”.

Touching on our human nature to point fingers and pass judgment on everyone else who does not eat, pray and love like ourselves inspired me to write “Bring It On – Ethics in Sexual Harassment Training ” which by the way is almost non-existent in the trucking industry yet violence against women during their training period is ridiculously high.

When I say sexual harassment I do not mean someone saying you have a nice ass at a truck stop.  I mean being put on a truck to learn to drive with someone who tries to badger or force you to have sex with them in order to learn to drive the truck.  I am talking about trainers who say they will not let you pass if you do not have sex with them.  I am talking about dispatchers who call you for phone sex while you are driving all night and withhold miles if you don’t comply.  I am talking about companies who retaliate on women drivers when they report these acts and protect the predators.

Many of these trainers have had multiple complaints and the carriers do little if anything to protect other women from being victimized.  Having a trainer who is jacking off while watching you drive or jacking himself off while he drives, this is what I am talking about. I AM NOT talking about another driver calling you “Honey”!

When a female student returns to her trainers truck from a shower, she should not have to worry that her trainer will be lying on the bunk with a hard on telling her to suck his cock!  She should also not have to worry about being left in the desert which it seems everyone knows is common but no one does anything about it. WTF?  These things also happen to male students so it’s not only because women are in a male-dominated industry. It’s because there are sexual predators who have been thriving in mega-fleets that train students who are fresh meat. It is because students are off-guard because they believe their companies are run by professionals, they do not enter these carriers expecting this conduct but perhaps they should.

Co driving teams can be just as dangerous because probelms drivers are recylced back into the driving population when they too have had multiple complaints of violence or sexual misconduct against them. Students should be made clear that the truck IS NOT theirs and they may not throw one another off because one has a temper tantrum when they are getting nowhere trying to make a pass for sex. Screaming at or berating your co-driver is not acceptable and when it is time to get off the truck the carriers should not delay or they themselves are the guilty party should a trajedy occur.

This language is strong on purpose!   This is what goes on and when you are all alone 2000 miles from home in a truck, isolated with no one to call for help and someone does these things to you it is frightening and it is a violation of your human dignity but unfortunately the term sexual harassment brings out all the apologists who are afraid we might look weak if we say anything.

Ray LaHood and Oprah Winfrey have no idea what distracted driving is until they have ridden along to see what goes on at our government funded truck driving training carriers.

Another thing I found about real women truckers is that many have come from some sort of abuse in their past. Either as children or abusive spouses and they desire to work alone and be in charge of their own lives.  Truck driving is such a confidence booster for a woman.

If you have ever had your face kicked in by the steel toed boot of a man you thought loved you know what I mean.  Having someone brainwash you into believing that you could never amount to a hill of beans and then becoming a professional driver of an 18-Wheeler!  Well FUCK OFF! RIGHT?

This is not to say that women truckers hate men, most still hold the hope they will meet someone who can accept their independence and understand how hard they fought to have the courage to take the risk.

Once you have tasted this kind of freedom it is very hard to let someone control your life again and it’s very hard to find a man who can refrain from putting his two cents in where it is not needed.

That’s not man-hating, its self-confidence and some people DO NOT like that in a Woman.

Sherry Yielding Brown is one real women trucker I was lucky enough to meet when she drove to meet me in Hamilton, Alabama.  She was driving double wide manufactured homes as a teen on back country roads.

Sherry told me about her 20 year trucking career and her very short stint as a company driver for one of “The Big Nine” saying what a joke it was. She retired from the open road in 2005 now works in Safety & Operations for a small company who values their drivers. In her spare time she works on the Marion county domestic violence task force and she is a bead weaver.

I have met a number of women who are either formerly truckers or still driving who would like raise awareness about violence against women in the trucking industry in order to expose those who do it and those who cover it up.

 The Dan Rather Report Series into trucking stretched into a four part series is based on CLUES I intentionally put in my student trucker story as a civilian entering trucking.

The show titles are “Queen of the Road”, “Truck Talk”, “Mind Your Loan Business” & “Haul or High Water” they can be viewed by going to the iTunes Store and Searching up “Dan Rather Reports”, each episode is $1.99.

 The original unedited story is on the web site “Ask the Trucker” and it is called “A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker”.   The back-story and commentary of the attempted cover-up is here on the “Trucker Desiree” site but portions are included in the 3 part Q & A of Ellen Voie on R.E.A.L. Women In Trucking.

That series was born of a 2rd generation trucker by the name of Heather Rose who wanted to hear more after viewing the “Raw Sound Bytes from a Trucking Convention” video clip that had unfortunate remarks about Women Truckers.

The first post had so many comments I had to shut them down.  By the time the second and third posts were up I was ready to become ill as I watched this organization dig themselves in deeper with uninformed and very hurtful remarks about women truckers.

Heather Rose was in a distressed living situation just as the series was launched.  She has had very limited access to computers to see the fallout but her only wish like mine has been  “will it help to make changes?” 

I believe so because at this point denying what has been happening to the female driving population and denying that student females are recruited at nearly 20% when retention remains stagnate at 5 to 6% with all the evidence presented in this past year through social media I feel strongly that those with consciences are doing soul searching.

How far that will get us I am not sure because souls and conscience are not synonymous with the trucking industry.

Trying to come together as drivers for unity I have been happy to see so many men are joining our Facebook fan page called REAL Women Truckers , we have had only three troll attacks which is pretty good considering we post some very controversial issues.

In this process we have begun to draw more clear lines of who is seeking to divide us BUT continuing to deceive by selling themselves as unifiers.

One important item for all to note is the appeal for the CRST Sex Harassment Case was filed on November 30, 2009, you can read more about it by clicking HERE , Should this appeal fail the taxpayers will be left to pay the enormous $4.5 Million in attorney fees.

 This should make every American very angry and I should hope take action to see these government funded trucking companies be held accountable for their poor training and personal safety standards.

As we begin to see that workplace bullying legislation may apply to workplace bullying organizations like trucking we can start examining other tools to fight back such the NEW  “Sexual Harassment Registry” from our Twitter friends @eBossWatch .

Educating ourselves on trucking employment law will also help drivers find resources to correct false DAC reporting, locate trucking whistleblower information, find information for refusal to drive in unsafe conditions and other issues.

 Partnership projects on “Ask the TruckerBlog Talk Radio like this recent show with Paul Taylor Esquire of Truckers Justice help to assist all drivers learn what their rights are when being forced to do things that will affect their CDL. Listen to the Replay of “FORCED DISPATCH

The Owner-Operators United (OOU) has endorsed R.E.A.L. Women in Trucking and asks for unity to be inclusive of truckers wives who seen their share of disrespect as they trying to keep the support system going for their guys. Trucking wives are a big component to the success of their spouses, they are very much part of the team even if they are not behind the wheel.

Hope Rivenburg , the young Widow of trucker Jason Rivenburg , she’s done more for truckers this past year than almost anyone despite losing her husband, giving birth to twins days later, working her butt off for the Safe Trucker Parking bill “Jason’s Law” having to endure a murder trial , going to Washington D.C. to speak on behalf of all drivers with very little recognition or REAL help from this industry.

Mike & Linda Rone of RMR Consultants have been wonderful by helping with DAC issues for a few women drivers who need to get back to work and rebut incorrect information that was reported on them. They go above & beyond to help drivers be D.O.T. Compliant. Their services are worth the expense to give you peace of mind that you have your work documents in order when you begin searching for an employer.

Jim Weldon of Driver Match is a Driver/Trainer who has also endorsed our site because he feels strongly about encouraging women to enter the industry but feels they should be trained safely are treated with respect.

Team driving can be an effective learning tool if done properly; it can also be a better way to make money if you can find a compatible person to drive team with.

Driver Match is not a dating site like other misleading team driving love match sites. It is a site where drivers can enter their own criteria to see if they can get along to team drive, he will be adding a background check feature in the near future.

These are innovations from people who care about highway safety, personal safety and being effective, not about ripping someone off who cannot afford to be ripped off.

Part of being a good driver is being a conscientious person, the big picture is trying to create some unity again among drivers.

Truckers Against Trafficking”  is a group that simply asks us to be the eyes and ears while we are on the road to watch for unusual behavior by utilizing their wallet cards and calling the national human trafficking hotline.  They will be making their debut at the ‘Great American Truck Show” in Dallas, please stop by their booth a grab some wallet cards to share with other drivers.

Stand up for positive change people, we do not have to tolerate the smoothed over version anymore, not with social media. I am living proof of this.

Better training for all drivers with check and balances will help to eliminate the abusive system both in-house and inside the industry.

The art work for the site was done by Alex Raffi, an Editorial Cartoonist & Artist who also did Artwork for “Jason’s Law“. The intent was to show diversity because one of the biggest obstacles Women face is trying to control things that only lead to division.

If you have personal blog site you would like to link to R.E.A.L. Women In Trucking please email me TruckerDesiree@gmail.com

This is your opportunity to help others with what you know.

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