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Posts Tagged ‘Women Truckers’

ooida-with-hopeThis was a significant moment! To arrive with Hope Rivenburg (Jason’s Law) at the OOIDA Headquarters for the final of four regional truck parking coalition meetings held on October 5, 2016.

If you have followed this blog and my social media activity over the past 8 years you will know just how many twists and turns my journey into the trucking industry has taken. Truck parking came to my attention through twitter when an article about a murdered truck driver named Jason Rivenburg was shared with me by a friend I met through social media that had a small Virginia newspaper.

Shortly afterwards I came to know Hope Rivenburg and felt blessed that I could help share news of her campaign to create a safe truck parking bill named after her Husband Jason.

Over the years watching this movement transition from a heartbroken family gathering petition signatures at their local country fair to the day Hope texted me during her first trip to Washington D.C. saying she wished she wore flat shoes because it was “…much bigger than she thought it was…“, I have been inspired.

One person CAN make a difference! Hope Rivenburg is proof of that.

The series of truck parking coalition meetings brought together people who would normally not sit at the same table and have a conversation. I found that there were vast differences in the beginning in understanding terminology between the groups but I felt optimistic following each meeting that most of the people in attendance wanted to identify ways to solve the problem of truck parking shortages.

I say “most” since there were some stakeholders that were absent and should have been represented in these meetings such as the shippers and receivers who dictate strict schedules, representatives from the freight brokerage sector and the trucking carriers of large fleets where drivers have very little experience in locating truck parking outside of their designated fuel stop locations.

lisa-joyce-and-meDo you know that there were only two individuals (2) that attended all four (4) meetings for truck parking? I was one (1) of those people. The other person was Mr. Carl Rundell from “Truck Smart Parking Services“.

Regardless of the absence of some of the major stakeholders,  I was pleased to meet several representatives from the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO) and be able to better understand where they are coming from with their arguments and statements about truck drivers and trip planning. It was clear that there has been a lack of communication to partner industries in the supply chain when it comes to the needs of the individuals that serve this country each and every day in their work as truck drivers.

Joyce Hibma, the Wife of a truck driver has become an instrumental voice for drivers in the North Bend, Washington truck parking battle. She attended the Salt Lake City coalition with me as a REAL Women in Trucking Mission Support Member. This is a woman who herself is on a mission and she is to be commended for her hard work on behalf of drivers. In Salt Lake City, Joyce and I met Lisa Mullings from NATSO and Caroline Boris Research Analyst from ATRI ( American Transportation Research Institute ).

At the Maryland and Dallas Meetings, Idella Hansen RWIT Treasurer and Pat Hockaday from “Truckers United” attended the coalition meetings which helped place more drivers in the room in order to give real life perspective to solutions.

Lisa Mullings CEO of NATSO remarked during the final meeting at OOIDA Headquarters “Where are the carriers in this conversation? They call themselves “Logistics” companies and they are dictating fuel stops and highway routing in the bigger carriers, Why aren’t they helping their own drivers with parking?

It is a great question and observation since these issues will get worse when mandated ELD’s come to fruition. atri-gal-with-joyce-and-iThe truth is that the inexperienced driver population is more likely to park on highway ramps because they are being run to the minute with their e-logs and many of these drivers do not have knowledge on truck parking outside their fuel routing.

Another issue that emerged was trucking fleets that only fuel at one chain that notoriously does not construct enough truck parking for the area in need which then in turn pushes off overflow to other chains who do not benefit from fuel sales. Pilot Travel, specifically, the “fuel your truck and get out” chain vs. Travel Centers of America, a chain that generally has a larger area to park but not so much a place fleet drivers are authorized to fuel at their locations. What are the reasons for this? Only major carriers can answer this question and drivers can only speculate. This is why carriers should have been part of these discussions.

The truck parking shortage is a problem that still has obstacles and that is where YOU, the reader comes in. In a post I published on the REAL Women in Trucking blog called “How to Take Action on a Local Level for Truck Parking” I’ve explained seven (7) simple steps each one of us can do to help advance this issue and keep the momentum going.

Essentially, we are in a place where despite all of the great ideas that emerged from the four regional truck parking coalition meetings there remains an obstacle. Communities that protest new truck parking that have not been sold on how safe truck parking serves them.

Here is what you need to know and how you can help work toward educating your state freight planners. Currently, All of the states have been tasked by the Federal government to do something they have never been required to do in the past, that is to create a freight plan. States must have an approved freight plan and freight network in place by December 2017 in order to continue to use their freight formula funds that were made available in FAST Act.  See Link: The FAST Act: The Freight Provisions

Truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds but it is not required. Truck parking is often overlooked as a necessary component to intelligent freight planning. Smart freight plans should be focused on alleviating highway congestion and part of thsleeping-truckat would be assisting truck drivers who must comply with federal hours of service requirements to prevent unsafe operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

  • Truck parking facilitates interstate commerce which must not be impeded by states and local governments
  • Truck parking improves highway safety

Hope Rivenburg has worked tirelessly to make sure that “Jason’s Law” for Safe Truck Parking, an initiative named after her murdered Husband would be recognized by the Federal government as a matter of safety. Hope took immediate and relentless personal initiative to take action for truck drivers.

Hope Rivenburg proved that one person CAN make a difference and she got the ball rolling but now the ball is our court.

Truck drivers must keep this issue relevant and they can do that by helping to write emails and making phone calls to educate state agencies that are not aware that truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds.

This is a call to action

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Use this link created by Allen Smith to the MPO Interactive Map to locate your State MPO contact information.
  2. Use the SAMPLE LETTER located on the MPO Interactive Map Link as a guide by using “cut and paste” and then revise the letter for your particular region and situation. You can use this link to download a PDF of the SAMPLE LETTER TO STATE AGENCIES. ( This letter is only a sample, it is not to be used verbatim, please personalize it to your situation.
  3. Send a letter, email it or make phone calls to the state agencies you have selected from the MPO Interactive Map to explain the pertinent information in a respectful manner that includes asking if “truck parking is in the freight plan” and if they are aware that “truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds and it is necessary in their region”.
  4. Identify to these agency heads in your letter or phone call that the funds “can be used on eligible projects until December 2017. After that, they can only use them if they have their freight plan in place”.  (Remember that eligible activities include truck parking and ITS type systems for information sharing and notifications).
  5. You can also help by calling State Motor Carrier Associations to make sure they understand that truck parking is an eligible project and asking them if they know “What’s in the freight plan?” for that State. The goal is to make certain that the agency representative comes away from the conversation with awareness that truck parking is needed and eligible for funds for their state.
  6. If possible, get involved in State and MPO area freight advisory committees.
  7. Ask the State agencies that you contact: “What have you done to improve on Jason’s Law data since the report was published”?

If they have not heard of “Jason’s Law” ask them for their email to share with them the following links.

FHWA DOT Jason’s Law

USDOT “Jason’s Law” Survey Reaffirms Nationwide Truck Parking Needs

Final Advice: Persist with your state by asking the question: “What is in your freight plan?” be tenacious but polite about getting answers.

REMEMBER! There are only 50 States, If you commit to writing at least 2 MPO’s from the interactive map we can make a difference. Stop waiting for everyone else to make a difference for YOU!

Listen to the Replay> Solutions to Improve Truck Parking with Host Allen Smith and Guests Nicole Katsikides Deputy Director of Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering and Desiree Wood President REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.

Much Thanks to Nicole Katsikides for help in drafting this call to action for truck drivers!

with much gratitude,

Desiree Wood

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kristine M. Gobbo

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

SpectrumPR

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. to Host

Inaugural Lady Truck Driver Conference Cruise

 

LAKE WORTH, Fla. (August 16, 2016) – REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. (RWIT) is hosting a conference aboard the Carnival Conquest to unite and honor women in the truck driving industry. The “Queen of the Road on the High Seas” conference, taking place Sunday, March 26 to Saturday, April 1, 2017, will include education sessions on a broad range of topics, including personal safety, discrimination, sexual harassment, and driver health. The agenda also includes a driver advocacy forum, a lady truck driver roundtable and an awards ceremony recognizing women who have overcome obstacles in the truck driving industry. The six-night cruise will depart from Ft. Lauderdale for the Eastern Caribbean with stops at Grand Turk, Dominican Republic and Nassau.

The conference will provide tools for truck drivers while advancing a voice for RWIT and its members. The sessions will include information on improving technical skills for drivers, promoting advocacy through social media, transitioning company drivers to owner-operator, and much more. A forum of truck driver advocates will also discuss issues that affect the industry. Notable speakers include Allen Smith, host of ‘Ask the Trucker;’ Anne Balay, published author of Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Steelworkers, a former truck driver, and writer of a recent op-ed published in The New York Times “Long-Haul Sweatshops;” and Christine Gray, Becca Kennedy and Shannon Morris, truck drivers, and advocates for the safety and success of women truck drivers.

All interested drivers, professionals within the truck driving industry, and others who encourage and support women truck drivers are invited. Families or significant others are also welcome. The conference schedule has been planned to allow plenty of leisure time to enjoy cruise activities. For those interested in supporting this important event, sponsorship opportunities are available at five levels with details provided at RWIT Lady Truck Driver Conference.

Nominations for outstanding female truck drivers, the “Queen of the Road” awards, are welcome. Awards will be presented to three outstanding women who have demonstrated dedication and tenacity in their efforts to become professional commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. Nominees must either be past or present CMV drivers that fit the R.E.A.L. criteria, which stands for Reaching Out, Encouraging Others, Achieving Personal Success and Leadership. Nominations will be accepted beginning Thursday, September 1 with a deadline of Monday, November 7, 2016.

“This conference is important to our efforts of ‘breaking the silence’ about the treatment of women in the trucking industry.” said Desiree Wood, one of RWIT’s founders. “At the conference, we hope to provide the tools women need to be more successful in their chosen field.  Along with information sessions, participants will have the opportunity to network with fellow drivers. Learning from one another and unifying on important issues is one of our primary goals.”

RWIT was initially formed in 2010 as a 501(c)(6) membership organization by female truckers to protest poor conditions that were not being effectively addressed by the trucking industry. “Queen of the Road on the High Seas” is the organization’s first fundraising event. Proceeds will help establish a 501(c)(3) foundation which will provide a headquarters and facilities with modest truck parking availability for members, scheduled learning conferences and advanced training for entry-level driver training students to develop their skills.

For more information, contact Desiree Wood at 561-232-9170 or info@realwomenintrucking.org, or visit http://www.realwomenintrucking.org/. Follow RWIT on Twitter: @womentruckers.

 

– RWIT –

About REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.:

REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. promotes safety by educating the public about unsafe truck driver training and has created a network of support for women entering trucking. The mission of REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. is to deliver highway safety through leadership, mentorship, education and advocacy.

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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 WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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happy-sad-faces

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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My new experience in trucking is what my first experience should have been. I am enjoying my privacy these days and having more free time for myself to have a personal life.
I don’t think anyone really understands what a sacrifice it was to spend every waking moment of my time trying to share my story to help others like me over the past few years. It took me many months to adjust to living off the road and in a house with no wheels, to reconnect to the world away from trucking.
The moral of my student trucker story is that you have to fight to survive in trucking to get to the other side of the rainbow. The retention numbers in truck driver training carriers speak for themselves. It continues to be a system set up for failure; therefore it is up to each individual to come out swinging if they intend to be trucking more than 6 months.

I have just launched the “Women Truckers Network” (WTN) Free Phone Conference Events which have quickly become a success. The founding members are Sandi Talbott a 71 year old female truck driver who pulls a reefer for Cargill Meats, Alison an owner operator Flatbedder and the inspiration for the phone conference network is a one armed trucker also known as “The Monkey Gouger”.  Tracy Tuttle-Hamm, a trainer for USA Truck is also a host for the WTN phone conference events and shares her insights for students planning to enter trucking.
Every Wednesday beginning at 9am Pacific time ( 10 am mountain, 11 am central, Noon eastern) the WTN free phone conference lets real women truckers chat live with one another to exchange information, lifestyle tips and to help women entering trucking make better decisions. (more…)

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