Pushing drivers over the HOS rule, filing false information on their DAC reports, cutting their miles, starving out both experienced and new drivers, failing to raise driver pay for decades, terminating drivers for following CSA regulations . . . motor carriers can dish it out, but they sure can’t take it.
As drivers voices become louder and stronger through the usage of blog posts, facebook, twitter and other various media outlets, motor carriers now face something that they have never had to face before . . . outside accountability. Spending tens of thousands of dollars per year on media advertisements, now when a carrier places an ad proclaiming high pay and driver support, they better deliver on their promise or they could find their company plastered all over the world wide web, for those considering a truck driving career to see.
The information highway is growing larger and faster with each passing day and more people are using the internet as their main source of research, than any other form of media or publication. As of March 2011, the estimated number of internet users reached 2, 095, 006, 005. In relationship to the world, this means that 30.2% of the world’s population is using the internet and for North America, 78.3%.
For the period between 2000-2011, world internet users grew by 480.4% and users in North America grew by 151.7%. A motor carrier looking to hire drivers with promising ads, should seriously consider delivering on those promises. Motor carriers have never had to deal with outside sources working as “watch dogs” for the industry and for drivers. In years past, they have controlled all the reins, with no challenges from anyone or anything.
“Do as we say, or be fired.”
Even as the CSA takes hold on the industry, drivers are still finding themselves victims of an industry that has a long history of employee retaliation. Suddenly, out of nowhere, trucking social media hit them right square between the eyes. The truth about termination retaliation and driver black balling became publicly known. The truth about trucking company lease purchase plans began to spread and more newcomers to the industry have become much more educated.
It is always important to point out that this game which is played out through the industry, does not apply to all motor carriers. In 2009, the last stats available at this time, there were 703,000 active motor carrier companies in the United States. To say all are dishonest would be foolish. There are many motor carriers that prove to be highly supportive and excellent employers, on a daily basis. The majority of the problem within the trucking industry as it relates to drivers, come from the starter companies, but as we also know, can include some of the larger motor carriers as well; those which continue to use drivers as cheap labor and pulling in the unsuspecting CDL student, using them as a revolving door for receiving government subsidies.
Not all truck driver advocates are advocates.
Professional truck drivers have enemies from all sides, including other professional drivers. Over the road trucking comes with many obstacles and even more agendas and the trust factor can often be misleading. Many say the right thing, while working toward another goal on the side. It reminds me of a saying, years ago, that I would always tell my students:
“The most frightening adversary is that who befriends you to your face, while plotting to twist the sword in your back.”
Professional truck drivers have many adversaries, thus the reason for their mistrust . . . all of which is often justified. The OTR trucking industry is an industry where, all too often, the employee is pitted against the employer. Through years of struggle and hardships, faced by many drivers, instead of being allies, the driver and motor carrier become rivals. What is even sadder, is that this has become to be expected.
Many of these motor carriers and trucking organizations, associations and publications continually express their concerns and support for the truck driver. For many, it is the very foundation for their existence. Comments are made by these carriers and organizations daily, presenting their support for drivers and their never-ending plight for watching out for the driver. There are major trucking publications, in business to bring news and information for the professional truck driver and always expressing their support for drivers; for someone looking in from the outside, support for drivers appear to be over flowing from all corners of America.
When one takes the time to really look, the truth and underlying agendas can be seen very visibly:
- Trucking organizations which always express their support for drivers, have virtually ignored an event . . . for drivers.
- Major trucking publications, founded on the principle of bringing industry news to drivers, have virtually ignored an event . . . for drivers.
- Nationwide motor carriers, continually expressing their support for drivers, have virtually ignored an event . . . for drivers.
In fact, in one of the groups on LinkedIn, a discussion that we started about the event was immediately removed. It is not a coincidence that the group leader is associated with a major U.S. motor carrier. In another group on LinkedIn, when a member of the group made a post, asking about their support for the truck driver convention, the member received the following reply:
“As the group manager, it is my job to enforce the group rules and it rather looks as though you may be on thin ice with the Truck Driver Social Media event, because it is clear that there is a link between you and “Allen Smith”, Owner, AskTheTrucker.com.”
Others have shared their experiences with us, regarding comments they have heard by motor carriers about the event:
- “We do not want motor carriers to show support for this truck driver convention.”
- “Do not support this driver convention in Tunica, Mississippi.”
- “Why would we support a convention for drivers?”
Yes, the professional driver has many adversaries, but as a newcomer to the industry, one can still have a decent career in trucking. It takes putting in your dues, sacrificing the first few years at low pay, disrespect, many obstacles and understanding that a large percentage of motor carriers do not have the best interest of the driver in mind. After building the driving experience, if it is not working out for you, you can move away from that starter company and into one of the motor carriers that treat their drivers as professionals, and yes, these types of carriers do exist.
Furthermore, after building the experience required of the industry, you can leave OTR and position yourself with a local driving job, leave OTR trucking and never look back. Nobody in the industry can tell you how OTR truck driving will work out for you. It is impossible to do because of so many variables involved. New drivers right out of CDL school have done great, while decade long veterans have struggled through out their careers.
For now, the power still lies with the motor carrier and whether or not they wish to operate in a professional manner, or continue to get by off the sweat and blood of the professional truck driver.
Should they choose the latter, they may want to keep in mind the ever growing preponderance of social media.
© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.