Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Truckers can’t be replaced …

I honestly just about spit Diet Coke all over my screen when I read the following proclamation made in The New York Times:

“The two categories that have shown the biggest year-over-year increases in total compensation are (1) occupations in transportation and material moving and (2) employees at junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools.

“So what do truckers and professors have in common? Ms. Swonk observes that their jobs are both hard to either outsource or automate, unlike a lot of other occupations.”

The implication that truckers can’t be replaced by lower-priced labor sources is laughable on its face.

For starters, if a mega fleet could automate truck driving, they would in a second. Hello? They are the ones pushing for speed limiters, collision mitigation systems, electronic logs with GPS. … That list could go on forever. Just wait for the driverless truck.

Second, what lower priced labor pool? Company drivers, generally speaking, are underpaid by so many companies. They find people unqualified, untrained and exploit their need for a job with what mimics indentured servitude when they saddle them with a lease purchase truck.

Time and time again it’s been acknowledged that performance and safety would improve if driver pay improved. Jerry Moyes, CEO of Swift Transportation admitted this fact last year. His comments were so priceless, I had to blog about it then.

“I’ve been in this business for 45 years and the number one problem has always been drivers. It’s not going to change.”

If that’s the first time you’ve read that, I’ll bet that your blood pressure went through the roof. I know mine did.

Now, to be fair, Moyes went on to offer a solution to this problem. (You’ll love this.)

And, I quote: “For us to solve this, we’ve got to give them a lot more money.”

Like that has happened, or will happen, any time soon.

At least The New York Times inadvertently made a legitimate point. Truckers, good quality, trained, responsible men and women behind the wheel won’t be easily replaced. Not with the gadgets and junk the big carriers want.

Try as they might, truckers are and will continue, to be here to stay. And, if we keep standing together against the BS, we could eventually see rates and driver pay go up for more than just the fat cats at the top of the big motor carriers.