USA Today Article: 'Rigged Part II' Is Out. It's About Trucker Exploitation At The Ports

Topic 20054 | Page 1

Page 1 of 2 Next Page Go To Page:
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

USA Today put out an article called "Rigged" recently. Here's the first part:

Rigged: Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

Now Part II is out:

Retail giants enable trucker exploitation. Powerhouses such as Target, Costco benefit while drivers plunge into debt

America’s retail giants have spent a decade ignoring signs of labor abuse in their supply chains, sometimes fighting government efforts to crack down, even as thousands of truckers were driven into debt and poverty, a USA TODAY Network investigation has found.
40 Ton Land Captain's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the link and info!

Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

I read that article. Yes, it's terrible that companies can get away with exploiting employees. Unfortunately, they prey on the poorest, most vulnerable and least educated workers. Educating oneself through resources like Trucking Truth is the best way to protect yourself.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

As is typical - the article lists some issues - but kinda misses the mark.

The retailers (aside from their private fleets, which actually pay pretty well - WalMart, etc.), are paying a totally separate entity to transport goods. How RESPONSIBLE ARE THEY in reality, for the way these carriers deal with their employees. So I don't think the onus of the problem is the retailer's fault, regardless of how the byline tries to make them responsible.

What I really see here - is an indictment of the FORCED LEASING PRACTICES of companies that operate out of Cali ports. In theory, running containerized cargo out of a port, should be pretty easy work. In reality, the wait times can be just as insane as the worst shippers/receivers in OTR work. With CARB really being a PITA on emissions - companies have to replace their fleets, and the easiest way to do it is - FORCED LEASE.

I can say this from experience, as I've ACTUALLY WORKED in my local port (Port Everglades) as a member of the Longshoremans Union (running a yard mule hauling containers and a "TopLoader" container handler). While they put a "dedicated gang" on a ship at the pier (usually 2 Cranes, 8 TT's and 4 Container Handlers) to get the ship loaded/unloaded - there's typically only 4 Container Handlers loading/unloading boxes for the trucks coming in/out of the port. Which means lines and waits to get or drop your box.

So if you are leasing and sitting for extended periods of time - you are going to get SCREWED.

Rick

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Last Shadow's Comment
member avatar

Very discourage about the treatment of our trucking brothers in the port, surely that's not the only place it's happening.

As is typical - the article lists some issues - but kinda misses the mark.

The retailers (aside from their private fleets, which actually pay pretty well - WalMart, etc.), are paying a totally separate entity to transport goods. How RESPONSIBLE ARE THEY in reality, for the way these carriers deal with their employees. So I don't think the onus of the problem is the retailer's fault, regardless of how the byline tries to make them responsible.

What I really see here - is an indictment of the FORCED LEASING PRACTICES of companies that operate out of Cali ports. In theory, running containerized cargo out of a port, should be pretty easy work. In reality, the wait times can be just as insane as the worst shippers/receivers in OTR work. With CARB really being a PITA on emissions - companies have to replace their fleets, and the easiest way to do it is - FORCED LEASE.

I can say this from experience, as I've ACTUALLY WORKED in my local port (Port Everglades) as a member of the Longshoremans Union (running a yard mule hauling containers and a "TopLoader" container handler). While they put a "dedicated gang" on a ship at the pier (usually 2 Cranes, 8 TT's and 4 Container Handlers) to get the ship loaded/unloaded - there's typically only 4 Container Handlers loading/unloading boxes for the trucks coming in/out of the port. Which means lines and waits to get or drop your box.

So if you are leasing and sitting for extended periods of time - you are going to get SCREWED.

Rick

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Another article was just released regarding this series:

Morgan Southern fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

Essentially, one of the drivers admitted he was running two logbooks and was fired for it. Naturally, if you admit you're knowingly breaking Federal Laws then you're going to be fired, it doesn't matter what company you work for.

The driver claims the company knew he was doing it, the company claims they didn't know.

What's interesting is a few things:

1) The driver uses an electronic logbook but says he used paper logs when he went over his legal hours on his electronic logs.

2) The driver claims he had no choice but to cheat because he wasn't making enough money otherwise because his lease payments were so high. And yet he had been doing this for the past 4 years. That's a long time to stick with a plan you claim wasn't working

3) This came from the article:

“Can you imagine sacrificing four years?” Flores said of the long weeks away from his wife and two sons, often for pay that dropped below minimum wage. “For all that sacrifice, I thought the truck would be mine.”

That sounds disingenuous to me. After four years in this lease agreement you didn't understand the agreement? It's a lease. You didn't buy the truck, you're renting it. Is he going to get upset after paying rent in his apartment for four years and then walking away with nothing? Did he expect to own it after four year of making payments?

Honestly, I don't think the port situation is any different than the leasing arrangements you find anywhere in the industry today. The thing you have to realize is that there is a 3% profit margin in this industry after paying the driver. People who expect to buy or lease a truck and then start raking in the dough clearly don't understand the economics of this industry. It isn't going to work that way.

In fact, you could easily wind up making far less than a company driver would, or even go into debt, making nothing at all. That holds true for any business owner in any industry. You're not an employee anymore. You're the owner. There's a monumental level of risk and responsibility involved with owning a business.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Dm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bill F.'s Comment
member avatar

Idiot signs contract with no understanding of contract. Sounds harsh but reality often is...

Knowingly violates HOS more idiocy.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rainy 's Comment
member avatar

This is going to sound nasty to some...but...

They didn't speak nor read English. But most of the article had drivers who owned clunkers and couldn't qualify to finance a Hyundai. They thought it was like a mortgage, and one borrowed against his house but lost it.

So immigrants who couldn't read or speak English figured out how to become legal to work at the ports, buy clunkers that were traded in for the new trucks, use two log books, buy and borrow against houses, get CDLs and of course, sue the companies for wrong doing.

But none of them understood the contracts because they didn't read English. None of them said "hey, I'm losing at this truck thing...so.maybe I need to try something else before I lose my house which is worth more".

Funny these poor immigrants know how to do a lot. Except take responsibility for bad decisions.

Maybe I'm a heartless North Easterner, but IMO we are all responsible for our choices. They obviously researched how to get some things they wanted done but want to play the victim when things don't work out.

And Brett's right, not much different from a lot of lease companies. Its all about the drivers ability to read the contracts, make good decisions, and learn from mistakes.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Tim H.'s Comment
member avatar

The very first person I met when I got to orientation was walking out the door as my roomate and I were walking in. The guy asked us if we were new and the conversation turned to company/lease. I noticed he had a sadness about him and he talked about his experience leasing and said if he could do it over he'd stay company. Sometimes his paychecks were in the negative. Sometimes low double digits. Occasional good ones.

Shiva's Comment
member avatar

Another article was just released regarding this series:

Morgan Southern fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

Essentially, one of the drivers admitted he was running two logbooks and was fired for it. Naturally, if you admit you're knowingly breaking Federal Laws then you're going to be fired, it doesn't matter what company you work for.

The driver claims the company knew he was doing it, the company claims they didn't know.

What's interesting is a few things:

1) The driver uses an electronic logbook but says he used paper logs when he went over his legal hours on his electronic logs.

2) The driver claims he had no choice but to cheat because he wasn't making enough money otherwise because his lease payments were so high. And yet he had been doing this for the past 4 years. That's a long time to stick with a plan you claim wasn't working

3) This came from the article:

double-quotes-start.png

“Can you imagine sacrificing four years?” Flores said of the long weeks away from his wife and two sons, often for pay that dropped below minimum wage. “For all that sacrifice, I thought the truck would be mine.”

double-quotes-end.png

That sounds disingenuous to me. After four years in this lease agreement you didn't understand the agreement? It's a lease. You didn't buy the truck, you're renting it. Is he going to get upset after paying rent in his apartment for four years and then walking away with nothing? Did he expect to own it after four year of making payments?

Honestly, I don't think the port situation is any different than the leasing arrangements you find anywhere in the industry today. The thing you have to realize is that there is a 3% profit margin in this industry after paying the driver. People who expect to buy or lease a truck and then start raking in the dough clearly don't understand the economics of this industry. It isn't going to work that way.

In fact, you could easily wind up making far less than a company driver would, or even go into debt, making nothing at all. That holds true for any business owner in any industry. You're not an employee anymore. You're the owner. There's a monumental level of risk and responsibility involved with owning a business.

I thought the same thing, however, I remember when I was looking at the possibility of leasing a truck, some companies offered to sell you the truck for $1.00 at the end of the contract. I forget all the details, but I do remember the leasing contract being around 6 years. That's a long time to be renting the same truck.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Dm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Page 1 of 2 Next Page Go To Page:

New Reply:

New! Check out our help videos for a better understanding of our forum features

Bold
Italic
Underline
Quote
Photo
Link
Smiley
Links On TruckingTruth


example: TruckingTruth Homepage



example: https://www.truckingtruth.com
Submit
Cancel
Upload New Photo
Please enter a caption of one sentence or less:

Click on any of the buttons below to insert a link to that section of TruckingTruth:

Getting Started In Trucking High Road Training Program Company-Sponsored Training Programs Apply For Company-Sponsored Training Truck Driver's Career Guide Choosing A School Choosing A Company Truck Driving Schools Truck Driving Jobs Apply For Truck Driving Jobs DOT Physical Drug Testing Items To Pack Pre-Hire Letters CDL Practice Tests Trucking Company Reviews Brett's Book Leasing A Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Learn The Logbook Rules Sleep Apnea
Done
Done

0 characters so far - 5,500 maximum allowed.
Submit Preview

Preview:

Submit
Cancel

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More