Lack of Detention Time Pay is nothing new, it’s been happening for years, so why all the talk now? Drivers are becoming fed up with a lot of things going on; Too many regulations and proposed rules, high fuel costs, low pay, less than ideal freight rates, broker rates, HOS, ELD’s, and more writing on the wall of other things coming down the pike. Add to that giving 20 or so hours /wk of your time for free ( unpaid DT), and the frustration mounts. They have become more vocal on Social Media while journalists are reporting and exposing more of the industry problems.
It’s difficult for DOT not to be aware of what’s going on, especially since holding a driver up can interfere with his/her HOS , which now becomes a safety concern. ( Safety is the magic word)
At a a House Small Business Committee hearing in November, DOT administrator Anne Ferro said.
”Driver pay and extreme loading dock delays have a significant impact on drivers’ ability to be efficient, professional, and safe. In short, uncompensated delays force drivers to press legal and physical limits to capture a day’s pay. The logistics industry gets this time free on the backs of the drivers and small businesses. Uncompensated detention time needs your attention, because what makes the job better, often makes the job safer.
Although Detention time was included in DOT’s highway bill, Congress did not include it in their first draft of their highway bill. So discussions mount among drivers. Should the government create yet one more regulation to ensure paid Detention Time? You would think it would be a unanimous “yes” among drivers, but the government track record for regulations is not the “best’ when benefiting drivers. I guess you could say not all “trust” the possible outcome
Most OTR drivers are paid by the mile, not hour, so it only makes sense that there should be compensation for this type of payment arrangement while the “wheels aren’t turning.”
The truth is, the trucking industry has gotten away with it for years, exploiting drivers, whether they be owner operators or company drivers.
Owner operators either deal with the shipper directly or through a broker. If Detention Time pay is not pre-arranged by owner operator, then there may little an o/o can do about it after the fact. Sure, he/she can decide not to haul for that shipper, but the fact is that there are MANY other carriers who will. If the o/o does demand an arrangement for DT, chances are the shipper will look for someone else.
Company drivers on the other hand have grown to accept lack of DT as part of their job. Can you imagine accepting not being paid for wiatingtime, even if it means going against your HOS clock, interfering with your next appointment time, and finally taking way from your paid miles and the ability to make more money?
We all agree that ALL drivers should be paid Detention Time, there’s no argument there, but why are they not getting paid now?
1) Carrier does not charge shipper ( in order secure negotiation of load) therefor does not pay driver ( Company driver)
Here is a comment supporting this which was made on a post back in 2011 ATA Opposes HR756- Paying Truckers for Detention Time
COMMENT: “The dirty little secret here is that these carriers use the drivers’ unpaid time as a negotiating factor: if nobody is going to charge detention pay, then they can bid a lower rate on the load-under a company that DOES demand detention time. Also, companies that do charge detention usually pocket the majority of it on company drivers-paying them something like $15/ hr after the first two unpaid hours. The ATA knows that if anyone actually starts looking at a driver’s unpaid hours, the next place they’ll look is the unpaid hours the carriers themselves dump on the driver. No-they dont want to go there!”
2) Carrier charges shipper detention time, however carrier does not pass it on to company driver.
“Trucking Industry Saves Millions in Driver Detention Pay”
3) 0/0’s Arrange load though shipper and do not discuss DT rates. Driver shows up and has to wait X number of hours without pay. At this point the o/o has to decide whether he/she will ever do business with this shipper again. Let’s say they choose not to, How many other o/o’s or large carriers will?
Answer: A lot
Let’s say that o/o did state their DT time rates and the shipper refused, now the decision is up to the o/o to either take it or not. It sounds simple doesn’t it,?just don’t haul it, right?
Not all the time, sometimes that load was the one that determined whether you go home or not; sat for an extra day or not, etc….
The 2 Sides of Detention Pay
Although all will agree that shippers and carriers should both be held responsible,(ensuring drivers be compensated for all their “waiting” time,) the difference in opinion lies in HOW they should be held accountable. Should the drivers “unite” (hmmmm) or should the Federal Government step in?
Note: Drivers Uniting would only help o/o’s not company drivers. It would mean that ALL would agree not to haul freight that didn’t include DT payment. But what about the larger carriers? Couldn’t they haul it?
Next, who is responsible for driver DT compensation? If you’re a company driver, then it’s the carrier, but if you’re an o/o, then it’s the shipper. So if there was a mandate, who would be mandated?
Note: FMCSA does not have authority over shippers when it comes to regulations. ( but they do carriers)
If the carriers were mandated to pay drivers DT, the carriers would then need to make sure they were paid by shipper to cover their DT costs.
Once the company driver gets paid for detention time, it would follow through with o/o’s as they will now have leverage.
So let’s say the carriers are forced to pay their drivers and they in turn charge the shippers, It could gets sticky:
How much? Minimum wage? ( not acceptable) Anything too low for the company driver would reduce o/o leverage when negotiating with the shipper or broker.
Summary and Solutions:
How do you fix a problem where everyone is responsible to some degree? Carriers, Shippers, Receivers, Brokers, and Owner Operators?
Carriers want to appease their customers so they don’t demand DT rates.
Shippers and Receivers aren’t concerned because no one is making them accountable and they don’t care about the driver, safety, HOS, ELD’s, or anything else, as long as they are making more profit.
Brokers– Only the ones that o/o’s have a good relationship with and trust, those who will determine up front and ensure driver gets paid for DT.
Owner Operators – Many o/o’s do not calculate DT in the load they are negotiating. Many ask for DT, but when told that it’s not paid, they take the load anyway, regardless…. Thus no repercussions for shipper. Many WILL refuse to do business with that shipper, but guess what, there are 10 more who will!
The only one who is not directly responsible for DT time pay is the company driver, UNLESS, it becomes part of a demand when being hired.
Solution: So the question remains, Should Detention Time be mandatory and who should be mandated?
Ideally, it should, but for significantly more than just minimum wage.
Although it is the shippers and receivers who are responsible for holding drivers up, it is the carriers who will need to be regulated and in turn make shippers responsible through compensating their ( carrier) DT expenses. In other words, the days of exploiting drivers by using them as negotiating tools would be over. On the bright side, the playing field would be even for everyone.
Once shippers are hit in their pockets by carriers, you will see how much more quickly appointments are kept.
© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.