Why Oh Why Have Trucker's Wages Not Kept Place With Inflation?! What Can Truckers Do To Change This????

Topic 19750 | Page 2

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Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
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True but that particular piece of legislation did much more harm than good and you know it. Don't get me started on unions because for the most part, they're useless organizations that demand something for nothing.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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So if wages drop hard you're mad at the government for not keeping rates high, but you hate unions too for trying to keep wages high? And yet if the government gets heavily involved in something you'll slam em for that, too. Man, you've gotta be a fun guy to deal with.

And no, I don't "know it". Just because you believe something doesn't mean it's true.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Something that seems to get overlooked is our UNwillingness to do some things.

I love my job, but I'm not gonna do flatbed. Therefore I'm limiting my earning potential. I went from "48 states" to southeast regional which might limit my income growth.

While I might not make $80k a year or see my pay go up 5% per year, I am satisfied with my pay and grateful to have it. Besides, I think we had some years where inflation was almost non-existent. I even remember concerns of entering a "deflation" period.

Bottom line; I have a job that allows me to provide for my family. I have a house many people would be surprised a truck driver owns and I have the love of people who mean the world to me.

Live "below" your means and appreciate what you have.

Thank YOU Brett!

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Something that seems to get overlooked is our UNwillingness to do some things.

I love my job, but I'm not gonna do flatbed. Therefore I'm limiting my earning potential. I went from "48 states" to southeast regional which might limit my income growth.

While I might not make $80k a year or see my pay go up 5% per year, I am satisfied with my pay and grateful to have it. Besides, I think we had some years where inflation was almost non-existent. I even remember concerns of entering a "deflation" period.

Bottom line; I have a job that allows me to provide for my family. I have a house many people would be surprised a truck driver owns and I have the love of people who mean the world to me.

Live "below" your means and appreciate what you have.

Thank YOU Brett!

Totally agree. The USPS was hell...and although union, the new people starting out won't see the increases I saw. Not ever. My mother can't collect.my dead fathers social security cause she was federal employee which sucks.

Plus, I take into consideration the aggravation. I'd rather make $45-50k with very little aggravation and no BS condescending attitudes than what I did for the federal government being on edge waiting for an argument every day.

If I do poorly in trucking it's all MY fault. No one else's. No one makes my decisions but me....even as a company driver. Yeah they send me the load. But if I can't do it, or I feel sick I tell them i dont have the hours or I want more time off. No big deal. When I want to RU. Really hard to make more money one week I tell the FM.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
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Brett, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for calling me a trucker, because I love it. I love what I do and I love figuring out puzzles like open deck loads. I also love making a decent living and being for the most part in control of that. I also pride myself in helping others. Whether it's assisting someone secure and tarp a load or helping back someone in while everyone else talks smack on the radio or like last Thursday, help another driver swap a new turbo in a parking lot so he could get home for the holiday weekend. I don't do it for recognition, I do it because that's what we should be doing. But thank you for showing your pretentious side and painting me with such a broad brush.

MCA 1980 had the best of intentions but like most federal legislation, it's a short sighted fix to a long term problem. It had several goals and accomplished most of them. It ended the strangle hold the Teamsters and other unions had on the trucking industry(good thing). It brought down ridiculous rates on freight and slightly lowered the cost of goods (Good thing). It opened the markets for more competition and gave way to larger carriers as well as brokers to work as middle men (questionable on the brokers part) and it drove down driver wages to what was considered more fair.

Companies grew and made money. Customers made more money as prices rose with the times but their freight wasn't as expensive to ship but the drivers suffered the brunt of the legislation by wages that stagnated and as even you have brought up, haven't changed much in almost the last 30 years.

So how do we remedy this oversight? I'd like to see us designated as skilled workers. With that, put in place a federal training program for both drivers and trainers. Heck, make it an apprenticeship program if need be but the result is a benefit to the industry because you'll make us a commodity and not just a butt in a seat. Yes, being a solid driver who does what they say they will and building a good reputation will take you far, it should be results based and is but there is a training issue that needs to be addressed and by turning out more safe and professional drivers, it adds value to their work. As an example, I'll use a thread posted on here. A driver was having issues getting lost because of QC navigation directions. Now some great advice was given in regards to trip planning but what we don't know is did he receive the info and tools he needed during training to successfully plan a trip without relying on GPS? If not, his trainer failed him, the program failed and the company responsible did as well. With turnover being so high and most companies being a revolving door of employment, doesn't it make sense that if people are properly trained and the ones weeded out who just can't cut it rather than pushing them through too soon only to fail. Instead, make them professionals. Make them truly earn the right to be a professional driver, make them successful right out of the gate and add value to the career. Companies grow and build all these new facilities which is great but I think the vast majority of drivers would be happier making a bit more money. To say our wages haven't kept up with inflation is an understatement and if you have drivers who are better trained, having fewer damage claims to both freight and equipment it's a win win for everyone and would justify a better wage.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I'm not pretentious, but I'm also not impressed with your one sentence answer citing a drunk politician and a President from 40 years ago as your summation of the dynamics of wages in this industry over the past 40 years. It's not really the level I'd like to see conversations at. That's the stuff of legend in trucker's lounges. Blurt out something about some drunk politician and everyone's fist goes in the air. It's not pretentious to expect something more than that.

As wages have gone down when adjusted for inflation, the training standards, monitoring of drivers, and enforcement of the laws have all gone up significantly. I don't see a theoretical business case that demonstrates how better training would lead to an increase in wages across the board, and I haven't seen it happen in practice, neither.

However, increasing the training standards would lead to an increase in the cost and length of training for new drivers. That would invariably lead to higher tuition costs and an increase in the length of training for those going through private schools, and require longer contracts and possibly higher tuition payments for those going through company-sponsored training.

And in both cases it would restrict the ability for a new driver to earn a better wage earlier on in their career.

So who is ultimately going to absorb these higher training costs? There is only a tiny number of carriers today who are willing and able to hire new drivers. That number would likely go down if training standards went higher. These companies wouldn't be able to raise freight rates versus their competition, so they can't recoup the costs that way. Their profit margins are already razor thin so they can't just eat the higher costs themselves. So the only remaining option, without further legislation, would be to let the students themselves absorb the higher costs.

if you have drivers who are better trained, having fewer damage claims to both freight and equipment it's a win win for everyone and would justify a better wage.

We already have plenty of reasons to justify a better wage, and if you look at the overwhelming majority of catastrophic accidents they don't involve brand new drivers, they involve experienced drivers who get too careless or aggressive. I knew someone who worked in the offices of a trucking company with about 50 trucks. Almost every month they had major accidents like rollovers, hitting bridges, or getting hit by a train, and the overwhelming majority of the time these were drivers with 10 - 30 years of experience.

One guy with 30 years on the road rolled his truck on an off-ramp three weeks before he was going to retire. Fortunately he was fine, with only bumps and scrapes. One guy with 10 years of experience said his foot slipped off the clutch when he was reaching for something and he rolled in front of a train, demolishing both the tractor and trailer, but fortunately he had jumped out and gotten clear just before it hit.

The recent tanker crash in California that cost a driver his life was a guy with 10 years of driving experience, a clean record, and a family at home, bless their hearts. This wasn't some kid fresh off the street with inadequate training.

Deregulation has been one factor leading to a decrease in wages versus inflation over time. With deregulation they made it possible for almost anyone to buy a truck or two and go into business for themselves. Unfortunately a large number of these inexperienced business owners wind up hauling freight at a loss for a short time, which drives down freight rates. Then they go belly up, making it more difficult for the better established and more business savvy owner operators and companies to survive.

So not only do you have a ton of driver turnover in a very difficult and demanding profession, but you have a massive failure rate for owner operators and small companies, which is driving down freight rates and preventing companies from demanding better rates and in turn paying more to their drivers.

So you might make the case that better business training for owner operators and small companies might lead to higher freight rates and better salaries. At least I can see a business case for it.

Then you have more efficient and reliable vehicles now which is allowing companies to keep rates low with their ability to keep fuel and maintenance costs in check.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a whole lot more to this story.

Unfortunately, the only real solutions I see to increasing driver wages would have to come in the form of unions or legislation. In a competitive open marketplace I don't see any business dynamics that are going to lead to an increase in driver wages versus inflation.

Raising training standards would also have to be done through legislation, and that isn't going to do increase wages anyhow.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Chris's Comment
member avatar

Simply think about it this way, if the cost of shipping goes up, how long do you think the retail price of product will stay the same? Do you really think shippers are going to take the extra hit to their pocket or raise prices to fund their riches?

I have been on the shipper side of things, I always looked for the highest quality BUT also the CHEAPEST bid to move my materials. If my minimum shipping cost were to have risen, guess where i'd make up for that? In the retail of the materials I had.

As long as companies are still profiting, they will try to get as much out of a shipper as possible, but even if they profit $30 on that load in the end, profit is profit and it adds up when you have super companies such as swift and others..

There will always be a lower bidder, and some O/O's that fail will run for less than their operating costs because they don't know they are, hence one of the MANY reasons many fail in the first 6 months and TT suggests against it, especially for the non business minded..

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Serah D.'s Comment
member avatar

If folks wanted to make $100K+ a year - they should have stayed in school, went college, and got a degree in a useful profession (other than black transgender women's studies). Even a college degree is no guarantee of a great paying job, except in certain professions.

Just out of curiousity, what do you mean by "Black transgender women's studies? Is it a course that is actually offered?

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

If folks wanted to make $100K+ a year - they should have stayed in school, went college, and got a degree in a useful profession (other than black transgender women's studies). Even a college degree is no guarantee of a great paying job, except in certain professions.

double-quotes-end.png

Just out of curiousity, what do you mean by "Black transgender women's studies? Is it a course that is actually offered?

Just an example of one of those weird-azz liberal arts degrees, in a bizarre world where folks are encouraged to spend $$ and get degrees in useless fields of study, where there is no employment - and then wonder why they can't get a job doing anything but running a deep fryer.

I was in a school for "bad kids" in my early teens - where I took all shop classes - metal, wood, mechanics, media studio (photography/videography), print shop - and learned how to do things with my mind/hands that have served me well my entire life.

Rick

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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