Question For The Union LTL Folks (rookies & Vets)

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Scott W.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey truckingtruth, I just passed my CDL permit test and now the real work begins.

I applied to the union LTL companies (YRC, ABF), the mail shippers (FedEx Freight), and of course a few of the megas. My parents and uncles were union members their entire lives (in different industries) and I've seen the benefit and downsides of it - but it would still be first choice if given the opportunity.

There are some things I don't understand about these dock to driver or driver development programs. I seem to be getting incomplete information. Recruitment ads will say one thing but I haven't really heard it from the horse's mouth.

1. If you are hired as a dock worker - is there a timeframe before they move you into the driving program (aka. going to CDL school)? Is there a case where you can be stuck never getting your CDL for years before they call you up?

I'm just trying to strategize what route I want to take into this industry. I would hate for my CDL permit to expire before ever using it. I have the means to attend a trucking school (while working full time) and am not against going with a mega and straight to OTR for a year or two. I guess the most important thing to me is getting time behind the wheel instead of waiting, since experience IS the resume.

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.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar

I work for ABF, if hired you will be sent to a schooling location and learn to drive a manual truck and build and break a set of doubles. Upon completion of your training and passing your road tests (state and company), you will report to your home terminal and have to complete 80hrs of dock training. All city and utility drivers are combination workers which means we are paid by the hour all work the dock as well as drive. I interviewed with YRC/YELLOW, their program was basically the same.

If your near a main ABF terminal, you could be a road only driver, they are paid by the mile, drop/hook, placarding, etc… and bid on routes to specific local terminals. They do not work the dock at all.

You can check out my training diary to get an idea of what to expect.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Pacific Pearl's Comment
member avatar

I've never heard of anyone being trapped in loading dock limbo who wanted to drive and didn't have a good reason (DUI's, accidents, under 21). If you clearly communicate your plans to drive during the interview they should be happy to accommodate you. You don't include your location but there are other union LTL options you didn't list:

T-Force

Yellow's regionals - Reddaway, Holland & New Penn

Oak Harbor Freight Lines if you're out West.

It's always a good idea to have a CDL training plan in place BEFORE getting your permit. As you're finding out it does expire whether you have your CDL or not.

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.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Rhino's Comment
member avatar

I work for yellow. I can not tell u about their dock to driver program sorry. They hired me straight out of truck driving school. They trained me n sent me on my way. I know there were a few dock guys that did get trained thru that program but I don’t know how long it took them I didn’t know them so never talked to them. Sorry that don’t help.

Scott W.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the responses.

Delco Dave - Appreciate the straight answer. I've heard that the application process is really long with ABF. How long did the whole process take you from application to getting hired? I have a phone interview with YRC on the 18th, but so far everything from scheduling an interview on their website and getting in contact with the same recruiter has been difficult (technical problem). To be honest most have told me that ABF is the better company in all respects.

Pacific Pearl - I live in Southern California. I'll check out some of the other companies you listed.

Rhino - My plan is to try to get into LTL training, and if not I'll go to trucking school. Absolute last plan is Mega paid CDL , even though it seems like the quickest route of them all.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Banks's Comment
member avatar

FedEx freight isn't a "mail shipper", it's an LTL company. I did my training at FedEx freight and I received 240 hours of 1 on 1 training.

I don't understand the desire to work for a union company. I make more than my union counterparts and when we have this conversation they always say "medical benefits and pension". Meh. I don't use my health insurance now and I'm not impressed by the pension numbers I hear.

Ironically, the same people that don't want to be tied to a mega carrier for a year in exchange for training, have no problem being tied to a company for 30 years for retirement.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Absolute last plan is Mega paid CDL , even though it seems like the quickest route of them all.

Can you give us a reasonable answer why you'd feel this way?

I never understand why people are so opposed to this option. If it's just internet chatter from the knuckleheads that's influencing you, then you need to examine this route with your own research. Ask us some questions. Share your concerns. I think you can learn a lot if you'll really listen to the folks who have made a great career in trucking by running with the big boys.

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.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar
I don't understand the desire to work for a union company. I make more than my union counterparts and when we have this conversation they always say "medical benefits and pension". Meh. I don't use my health insurance now and I'm not impressed by the pension numbers I hear.

Seconded.

I never thought I would say this but now doesn't seem like a great time to get into LTL.

It is slow by us and I hear similar things industry wide. You may get hired if a company has an opening just be prepared to be called off as you will be the lowest seniority driver.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I concur with Old School and Bobcat…

What exactly is your reservation on TL carriers offering Paid CDL Training Programs? There is clearly no better or easier entry into this business. Stay off the internet… nothin’ but BS on the review sites.

I schooled and trained with Swift and went on to have a successful 9 year career with them. No regrets; if I had it to do-over, I would take the exact same path. Don’t allow the negativity of complete strangers influence your decision.

I strongly suggest reading this: Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

Good luck.

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.
Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar
I've heard that the application process is really long with ABF. How long did the whole process take you from application to getting hired?

I applied online, took about 3 weeks. I already had a friend working at my terminal who referred me and spoke with the terminal manager so my application was recognized and processed pretty quick. Get your tanker and doubles/triples endorsements prior to your interview. Being prepared to roll will improve your chances of being hired. They will provide the Hazmat class during training and submit your paperwork to the State and FMCSA around week 4 of training. Then you can go test and add that endorsement before your road testing.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.
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