Comments By Rajinder M.

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Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

Wow! Seems like someone thinks no one should ever complain. That's weird. This nation wouldn't even exist but for a bunch of grumblers that rose up and did something about it. Trucking pay is low. Even yours, mr. old school. $1500 for 80 plus hours (the equivalent of two full time jobs!) while being away from family for weeks at a time and all the other sacrifices you make, just isn't a lot. You might not agree, but just about everyone else does.

I'm a truck driver, and I love my job. Lot's of people who deep down love their jobs complain all the time. I work with drivers making over 90K a year, home every day, great benefits, etc.... that complain about things all the time, if their mouth is moving, they're *****in' about something.

Compliant people don't effect change, complainers do!

Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

I initially responded here because I was mystified by the knee-jerk, defensive reaction of some here to the article that was posted. With just a little further reading I found that the author, Viscelli had done a lot more research than someone here alleged. It turns out, in fact, that Viscelli had spent about 10 years researching the trucking industry prior to writing his book. His research involved, among other things, extensive, formal interviewing of drivers and industry executives, and even included 6 months training and working as an OTR driver for one of the large carriers (this experience, as I suspected, was part of his research, and 6 months in length by design).

As far as his motives go, it looks to me like he is trying to help drivers, and working class people, in general. Trucking used to be a good middle-class occupation. Viscelli is calling attention to the government and big trucking policies that have caused long haul trucker wages to decline to less than half of what they were before 1980. Wouldn't you like to be earning as much as a driver in the 1970's did that worked as hard as you do?

Viscelli's main target seems to be the "independent contractor" thing. How companies take advantage of many drivers lack of sophistication/education/experience to get them to sign on to truck lease plans that are heavily rigged in the companies favor and often lead to financial disaster for the driver. These companies are preying on the good and honorable dreams of many drivers to become independent business owners, to sell them into loser lease arrangements. Why would any driver have a problem with Viscelli further exposing this especially dark side of the industry?

You might want to be careful calling people who have signed onto these lease programs "idiots." These companies are led by highly educated, sophisticated people who sit at a high vantage point compared to your average driver, and they take advantage of it. Don't just blame the drivers.

And, regarding the "sweatshop on wheels" reference, it wasn't just a "quote from some economist." It was actually the title of a book by Michael Belzer who is a former (8 years) long-haul trucker who now teaches industrial relations at Wayne State University. "Sweatshops on Wheels raises crucial questions about the legacy of trucking deregulation in America and casts provocative new light on the issue of government deregulation in general."

Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

It's long enough to figure out that you don't know how to survive in this career, and then start playing the blame game.

In this instance, no evidence of that being the case has been presented.

As an individual who has been doing this for a good many years, I don't have a problem calling his extremely limited experience completely irrelevant.

Also as an individual that has been doing this for years, I completely disagree with you. At 6 months I had a pretty good handle on how it was done. Always learning, always improving, for sure, but I knew how to operate by 6 months. Most who are successful at this "get it" by that time.

I would bet that some of the rookies here would also disagree with your saying that their 6 months of experience is completely irrelevant. And, know who else disagrees? The major carrier that I started with who offered me the opportunity to become a trainer with only a little more than 6 months under my belt.

Do you have any specific arguments with Viscelli's findings of fact or the conclusions he draws?

Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

And I would just like to add that my original comment was directed at the poster that suggested that there was no real research behind the article. Whether you consider Viscelli an "expert" or not, there is no denying that he has relevant experience has done some real research.

Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

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It looks like this guy does his research and knows his stuff!

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A guy who didn't last more than six months as a driver is now considered an expert who "knows his stuff!"

And as far as 100's of interviews goes...

I've spoken with plenty of drivers who don't have a clue, even after years of doing this.

I don't know the nature of his experience as a driver. Do you? Perhaps it was just part of his research and only 6 months by design. In any event, 6 mos. is long enough to get a good glimpse of what it's like to be an OTR trucker.

Do you have any specific arguments with Viscelli's findings of fact or the conclusions he draws?

Posted:  7 years, 4 months ago

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Story: How trucking went from one of the best jobs in America to the worst

It was typical of articles you find way too often these days and I'm kinda surprised it's coming from such a well known entity. It's written by some guy who knows nothing about trucking, did an hour of research, tossed in a few stats, added a few common catchphrases like "indentured servitude" and "income at or below minimum wage" and "driver shortage", and published it so he could get onto the next one. His previous articles were about pot sales, grapes selling for outrageous prices in Japan, and the stock price of a gun manufacturer.

This article is basically just commenting on another article from The Atlantic (linked to in this article). If you read the Atlantic story, you'll see that it was written by U. of Penn sociologist Steve Viscelli who wrote a book called The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.

Here's from the amazon description of the book:

"The Big Rig explains how this massive degradation in the quality of work has occurred, and how companies achieve a compliant and dedicated workforce despite it. Drawing on more than 100 in-depth interviews and years of extensive observation, including six months training and working as a long-haul trucker, Viscelli explains in detail how labor is recruited, trained, and used in the industry. He then shows how inexperienced workers are convinced to lease a truck and to work as independent contractors. He explains how deregulation and collective action by employers transformed trucking’s labor markets--once dominated by the largest and most powerful union in US history--into an important example of the costs of contemporary labor markets for workers and the general public."

It looks like this guy does his research and knows his stuff!

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