Trucker Pay Has Fallen When Adjusted For Inflation

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Jopa's Comment
member avatar
Nowadays our biggest problem is having too much wealth accumulating in the hands of too few and I think the answer for that was the same as it was a couple of generations ago....unions. You can't expect the Federal Government to dictate wages or redistribute the wealth. That's just not going to happen. You can't expect the people on top who are accumulating all that money to recognize the situation and remedy it. The workers are going to have to take it back. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon either.

Brett, I think I have a 90% rate of agreeing with your point of view but I failed miserably this time . . . unions are dying the death they richly deserve because they way outlived their usefulness years ago . . . there is a little thing called "efficiency" and another called "productivity" that - between the two - have rendered the American worker (and soon, the Chinese worker) a lot less useful or needed . . . meanwhile, you can bemoan the "greed" and concentration of wealth all you want but the reality is no people on the face of this planet have EVER had the living standard we have in this country where even the poorest people are WEALTHY compared to the truly poor around the world . . . when Pharaoh or Ceasar or even the noble classes of past eras were in charge, the unbalanced wealth distribution makes today's version look egalitarian by comparison . . . bottom line is, as technology continues to develop, the human component in the working world will continue to be less critical and less valued . . . no way around it . . .

Jopa

shocked.pngsmile.gifsorry.gif

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Jopa, my first point would be that American corporations are making more money than they have at any time in our history at the same time wages as a percentage of GDP are at the lowest in our history. Put those two together and you have a train going 1000 mph at a brick wall. It's unsustainable and the gap is actually widening. It's a basic economic principle that this situation will end badly as it always has throughout history. So how the h*ll can you say unions outlived their usefulness when the mess we're in right now is exactly the situation they were created to remedy???

My second point would be go out and try to find a blue collar job today that pays a living wage. The median home price in America is $188,000. Now where am I going to go in today's economy and find a blue collar job that will pay that? If you had two people working full time without any children they probably couldn't afford that on blue collar wages. And yet corporations have more profits than anytime in history. So the money is there. A fair share is no longer going to the workforce. If we don't remedy that there will be another great depression in the coming decades.

bottom line is, as technology continues to develop, the human component in the working world will continue to be less critical and less valued . . . no way around it . . .

There damn well better be a way around it or the world's economies are going to collapse. People need to make a living or industrial nations become welfare states or Socialist or watch their people starve like in the Great Depression. You can't just say, "Oh well people. Sorry nobody can make a living anymore but you've been replaced by technology." And you certainly can't expect everyone to become Systems Engineers and Programmers. Only about 2% of the people out there could make a living at a high level in technology. What are the other 98% supposed to do?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Brett, based on your last post, which I'll just reference rather than quote, I'd like to know your thoughts on a question I have for you.

What's the difference between an egalitarian state of affairs enacted by the government and an egalitarian state of affairs achieved by a union?

Specifically in regard to economic status and opportunity, you seemed to contrast a Socialist government vs unions. Whereas perhaps the end result might be more similar than you think. In other words, if I understood you correctly, you seem to speak in a derogatory manner about a Socialist government, but yet favor unions. Why would you favor one over the other? Do they not both infringe on the freedom of somebody? Do they not both aim towards egalitarianism, in some form or another?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

The reason you'd rather have a union negotiate terms for the workers instead of the Government is because the unions and companies can negotiate terms that work for the individual companies and unions involved. It would be very difficult for the government to dictate wages, benefits, vacation time, job duties, and safety policies that work across the board at all companies. And of course the Government wouldn't be able to create enough scale to bargain individually with the various companies. So it's best left to the unions to work with the companies and their members directly.

There are a couple of things I think you guys are missing:

1) The diabolical nature of the people running most large corporations. Do you guys have any clue how ruthless and cold-blooded a lot of big money people are? Do a little research into what wages and conditions were like from the late 19th century until strong unions formed post WWII. Read some stories about how many people were killed regularly at steel mills, coal mines, and construction sites. Read about how Carnegie had people working 60 hour weeks without overtime pay in 120+ degree dungeon-like conditions where people really didn't know from day to day if they would make it home to their families or not. Read about how many people died building the Empire State Building or The Hoover Dam. Or maybe ask my dad what it was like loosing half a dozen of his best friends who all died from Oat Cell cancer they got from the steel mill they worked at because management didn't want to spend the money to clean up the air. Well actually you won't be able to ask him because he passed away along with em. It was later proven that management was fully aware of the health risks but kept it a secret and denied any problems. A class action lawsuit was won by the workers.

If it wasn't for unions and OSHA and organizations looking out for the workers you would have the same circumstances you had 100 years ago. Why the h*ll do you think conditions and wages improved so dramatically from the mid 1800's to the mid-to-late 1900's? You think big money people running these corporations suddenly grew a big heart or do you think they were forced to spend the extra money on wages and safer work conditions?

2) The only people getting their fair share of wages and benefits for the most part these days are union workers. Let's compare two organizations - NFL teams versus Apple. NFL players are union, Apple workers are not.

NFL players get 48% of all revenues made by the NFL.

Apple - here's a quote from an article:

Apple made profits of $39 BILLION and had cash flow of $50 Billion in 2014. Now about 30,000 of the 43,000 Apple employees in this country work in Apple Stores and many of them earn about $25,000 a year. They work inside the world’s fastest growing industry, for the most valuable company, run by one of the country’s most richly compensated chief executives, Tim Cook. Last year, he received stock grants, which vest over a 10-year period, that at today’s share price would be worth more than $570 million. Apple makes the astounding sum of nearly half a million dollars in profits for each of its 80,300 employees

So in one year Apple made $39 Billion in profits, generated $50 Billion in cash, and one guy made $570 million from it while 30,000 of his employees made $25,000.

How can that not make you sick?????? How can you not think something should be done about that and what do you think should be done about it?

Now finally, 6 String Rhythm, you're an interesting case. You're basically making union wages but you're a non-union employee. I was in the exact same position in the mid 90's so I know why that is. You'll make what...$70,000 this year while the average OTR guy will make $45,000. Why is that? It must be proof that unions aren't necessary, right? Why don't you tell us why it is that you're making so much money without a union, and don't even dream about saying something like "my company makes a lot of money because we're LTL" or anything ridiculous like that. Not after I just documented that Apple made $500,000 in profit per employee. Your company isn't within a million miles of that.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
So in one year Apple made $39 Billion in profits, generated $50 Billion in cash, and one guy made $570 million from it while 30,000 of his employees made $25,000.

This right here sums up my where my feelings come from regarding unions and corporations. This is an absolute tragedy right here. You couldn't afford to live on that salary even if you were single, had no children, lived in a small apartment, and drove an old crappy car you paid cash for. And yet one guy is making $570 million a year and the company itself makes $500,000 in profit per employee.

For anyone against unions I ask you:

1) Is this fair?

2) What do you think should be done about it?

I want to see someone step up to the plate and take a shot at those two questions. I don't want to hear rhetoric or theories or Utopian ideals. I wants numbers and facts. Without unionizing, how would you answer question #2?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Interesting reply Brett. And I can appreciate your personal experience with the evils of corporate greed. I'm sorry your father was subjected to such conditions, you have my sincerest condolences.

I suppose an easy answer in regard to my situation is that I'm benefiting from the presence of unions in the LTL sector, even though my company doesn't have a union presence. So, would it be too simple to assume that if truckload companies had a union presence, OTR drivers could earn a better living? Or is it really that simple? Is it also possible that LTL companies are set up to be more profitable than truckload companies?

For the record, I've never said that unions can't bring results. I'm just not sure if I always agree with those results, or how those results might be obtained. Coming from a family history of entrepreneurs, there is something about unions that doesn't quite sit well with me. I'm a small business owner, and now I also drive a truck. I understand that you are talking about large corporations, about corporate greed on a large scale, but for me some of the concepts remain the same, no matter what scale we're talking about.

Better working conditions is something I'm not even about to argue against. But let's talk about wages. Distribution of wealth. Why should an individual, or group of individuals, be forced to pay wages that they would rather not pay? Making your own way and creating personal prosperity is at the heart of capitalism - the freedom to attain wealth, free enterprise, enjoying the fruits of one's labor. Why can't those in control of a company decide how much they should pay their workers, and see fit for themselves how they distribute profits? Should their employees be able to dictate what they should be paid? Why couldn't those employees just leave and find a job elsewhere?

Personally, I see the pitfalls of capitalism. Taken to its logical conclusion, capitalism is a breeding ground for greed and inequality. But then again there is something rewarding and gratifying to be able to forge your own way and create your own prosperity by your own efforts - without the infringement of a government or collection of people who believe they can dictate how you distribute the fruits of your labor, even if those fruits were attained by the work of others. A worker or employee can either agree to their wages, or they can choose to seek employment elsewhere.

I don't believe there are simple answers to these complex questions. I don't like the idea that a small minority is living high on the hog while countless others are in poverty. I also don't like mob mentality. And no, I'm not talking about 'mafia' mob. I'm talking about an individual's freedom being compromised or threatened by a group of others - be that government or a union.

In my ideal world, I'd live within a group of people where we all shared the load, carried each other's burdens, and were able to have the time and freedom to enjoy living life as a living - not working for a living. Everybody would have a chore or task, contributing to the common good. Yep, it sounds like communism, maybe Christianity? That would be my ideal world, with my family. Not working for stuff, running the rat race, or having to scrimp and save only to wind up not being able to 'afford' to retire, being sent away to some 'retirement home' with a bunch of strangers. There's a reason why they say money is the root of all evil.

I guess what I"m saying is that if you buy into capitalism, there are logical conclusions. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't say that you're all for the freedom to create personal wealth, and then say that it's not fair if others don't have a piece of the pie. Admittedly, I enjoy the satisfaction of creating your own worth and prosperity, but I also would much rather just spend my life with my family and loved ones, being part of a group where we all carry the load.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I posted that long-winded response before I saw your latest post Brett. I can't give you hard facts or numbers. I believe our current economic system and way of societal living is broken. There are no easy answers. But to answer your two questions ...

1. No, it's not fair.

2. Communal living. Sounds idealistic, probably is.

Unionizing would bring results. You might as well just go the whole way and do away with a capitalist society. You might call that utopian thinking, I believe it's possible with like-minded people.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
You can't say that you're all for the freedom to create personal wealth, and then say that it's not fair if others don't have a piece of the pie

Why can't you say that? You most certainly can. It's awesome to have the freedom to pursue personal wealth but at the same time it isn't fair for one man to make $570 million while 30,000 of his employees make $25,000. Both statements are true at the same time so I'm saying that.

You're defending the right to make all the money you'd like to make but you're only making that argument from the business owner's perspective. You're not looking at it from the worker's perspective. They have the right to make all the money they can make too. The difference is the business owner has all of the power and authority because he has all of the money. He controls the company, it's people, products, and processes. The workers have no authority whatsoever unless they create some for themselves by banning together. That's the only way they can even the playing field. The business owner controls the cash and machinery, the employees control the flow of work, and now both need each other to succeed.

Your answer to the worker is basically, "Take a hike if you don't like it." But that's not the best answer to thwarting the abuse of workers by management in the form of slave wages and a hostile, unsafe work environment. You don't just say "Deal with the danger and misery or take a hike." You find a way to bring justice to the situation so everyone can benefit from the success of the corporation as a whole financially and everyone can expect to go home safely at the end of the day. Otherwise the top dozen people who play golf and sit in meetings make millions while the tens of thousands who did the actual work live in poverty and work in dangerous conditions.

I'm a small business owner myself and have been for many years. My extended family is loaded with entrepreneurs. So I'm all about capitalism and the freedom to pursue any business venture you like. But you can't let anyone get out of control. You have to keep balance in the system or the system collapses. If too much wealth accumulates in the hands of too few people it will lead to economic and political collapse and chaos. Always has, always will. It's the rise and fall of empires and dictatorships.

Apple will soon have a trillion dollar valuation. That's far bigger than the GDP of many small nations. These corporations are so large and powerful now that they are becoming like small dictatorships making billions for a handful of people and leaving the masses in poverty. Walmart does it. Home Depot does it. A ton of corporations are doing it. When you string them together you're suddenly faced with tens of millions of workers making poverty wages while two dozen corporations make trillions and their top 100 people make billions. You have to come up with a solution to prevent this or you will have a complete collapse at some point. Government isn't the best answer. So far unions have been and I don't have a better answer myself at this point. But to ignore the problem will lead to a catastrophe. This isn't my opinion. This is a proven historical and economic fact.

So how do we keep the handful of maniacal lunatics from accumulating all of the wealth and power and putting the rest of us in poverty? Because that's exactly what will happen if you let certain people do what they want without someone on the other side maintaining a balance of power.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Attila's Comment
member avatar

Brett I lived in a commune when I was a child. My parents were progressive Cali hippies. That experience tought me that extremes on any side of the spectrum is bad. If you want to know more read about the Children of God cults and communal living.

Unions have not lost their usefulness. I heard that for decades mainly from the Boomers. Just because you belive that system doesn't work for does not mean it won't work for me.

Anyone who thinks Socialism is bad, especially a truck driver who owes his life to a massive social project called the US interstate program needs a reality check. Anyone who thinks capitalism is bad just has to go to a grocery store. I am very tired of black and white childish thinking from both sides of this. We gotta take the best from both schools of thought and flush the rest down the dust bins of history.

Helping our fellow man is great, working hard to build a life is great. Lets make both happen, just not to extremes.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Attila's Comment
member avatar

As for the Sociopaths running our institutions, I agree Bret, we have to have leverage over them. The only leverage I can think of that would force a Sociopath to compromise is to really threaten their power. Nothing else will work.

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