By Allen Smith
Low wages, driver shortage, high driver turnover, low retention, poor recruiting practices, cheap freight, working without pay, low hiring standards and unskilled labor are just a few of the phrases you will hear included in any discussion regarding professional CDL driver wages.
You will find many articles describing the facts regarding the problems encompassing the causes of stagnant truck driver pay, whether it be the fact that wages have not increased in decades, the unfair pay structure, the classification of drivers, or even the fact drivers work many hours without pay.
There are also those who write and offer suggestions about ways to address and resolve the dormant driver wage situation. Unfortunately, most who feel compelled to write or share their thoughts and ideas about wage solutions, or even mention that there is an unfair balance between drivers wages and industry profits, comes from the driver population itself.
That is not to say that there has not been a recent voice made by carriers claiming they are addressing the wage issue by raising driver pay which in most cases means increasing the cents per mile rate (CPM). Of course this most recent announcement by carriers was actually initiated by the anticipation of a driver shortage as many of the younger generation needed to fill the seats of veterans retiring, do not find the trucking industry an “appealing career” as discussed in a previous post: Truck Driver Retention and the Generation Gap.
But just how significant are these current driver wage increases? Keep in mind, even if a motor carrier claims they are raising their driver pay .03 CPM, that is only an increase of $60.00 per week, based on a 2,000 mile weekly scale.
Veteran truck driver Pat Hockaday introduces an interesting and well-calculated new thought to the ongoing CDL wage discussion. Mr. Hockaday is the founder of TruckersUnited.org and has spent a great deal of time contemplating the best solution for a fair increase of drivers wages, including the most practical method in which they should be designed. The details of his observations and methods can all be found in his writings known as “JoJo’s Paper.”
Below is a post that Pat posted on his FaceBook wall and has allowed us to share it here as well. I believe that this reading, along with JoJo’s paper, should motivate and inspire dialogue between all drivers, not arguing or criticizing one another, but rather sparking thoughts and ideas for real driver solutions:
“It’s been a Long Day. Before I go to bed I am very happy to announce that TruckersUnited.org in it’s new and improved format is up and running! Thank’s Danny, I know that You have worked very hard to make it happen!”
“As an individual with an opinion and a possible solution that I believe will solve many problems within this industry, I hope to meet more like minded individuals that are willing to work towards common goals to turn this industry around from the small guys perspective.”
“I believe this can be done only if we are willing to work towards common goals.
SAFETY; Why are we having regulations shoved down our throats in an attempt to force us into compliance? Hasn’t anyone figured out that Drivers are only trying to earn a living and to do so they must bend or twist the law?”
“Safety comes at a price! Drivers are paying that price in lower earnings due to their time needed to earn being regulated. Drivers are paid piece work wages and when their time need to produce pieces is regulated away they earn less and must become creative in order to sustain themselves and their families!”
“Are these regulations creating safer or more dangerous roadways for the public? Is it possible that if the Drivers were paid to be safe instead of being forced to earn less they would have no need to act in ways deemed unsafe?”
CHEAP FREIGHT RELIES ON CHEAP LABOR
“We O/O’s and small carriers have to compete against mega carriers that have, due to their size, set the labor rates for this industry. Intentionally or not, they have influenced freight rates to remain low and to stagnate. One can not raise their rate to pay better because that would give the others a competitive edge! Is it possible that if they all had to pay a salary based on a minimum wage standard they would all save money and maintain their competitive edge and their bottom line?”
“The megas and the FMCSA have been working on their agenda to have it their way without considering Us small Guys! Isn’t it up to us to let it be known what we need?”
“In it’s simplest form it all boils down to money. You and I can do whatever is required, we can break the law in order to earn. Why can’t we influence laws that enable Us to Earn without breaking the law?”
“In JoJo’s Paper I have laid out a concept that accomplishes the Goal of Safety by paying the Co OTR Drivers a living wage. I put this concept out for all to consider and discuss. Maybe a better idea will come out of it or maybe it can be improved upon. I only know that We little guys have been fussing and fighting among ourselves while they are deciding how it is going to be. It’s time to start working together like a team so that we can win or lose as a team.”
“It’s up to you what your future will bring, WHY are YOU letting THEM decide for YOU?
Let’s start talking so that we may find solutions where they can’t, right under their noses!”
Recently Mr. Hockaday was a guest on AskTheTrucker “LIVE” and oddly enough, it was a health show about the relationship and affects between CDL wages and truck driver health. You can catch the full broadcast below:
As professional drivers, I believe it is important to be able to open dialogue by sharing all of our experience, knowledge, thoughts, ideas, opinions and so-forth, which can ultimately lead to an agreed upon and in many cases, a final solution to an industry problem.
© 2015 – 2016, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.