Trucker Pay: Another Paradigm Shift May Be Underway

 

C.R. England is a lot like most of the other major motor carriers in the U.S. Despite being one of the nation’s largest and oldest temperature-controlled carriers, C.R. England is unable to truly reach its maximum capacity for freight because they simply do not have enough drivers to operate their trucks. A driver shortage that affects the Utah-based company has affected the entire logistics industry for more than a decade.

The rate of pay associated with trucking jobs has long been thought to be the main culprit behind recruiting shortages. Lower pay as compared to trucking’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s may be a big part of the problem, but it is not the only issue. JOC senior editor William Cassidy believes how drivers are paid is just as important as how much they are paid.

Cassidy wrote a piece on February 20 (2018) detailing the fact that trucking firms are having to rethink the whole pay question from top to bottom. He suggests employers may have to come up with an entirely new pay model that accounts for more than just miles. He suggests an hourly rate may not be too far down the road, so to speak.

Changing Regulations and Technology

Decades ago truck drivers were free to do just about anything they needed to do to get freight to its destination on time. Drivers would put in long hours and plenty of miles. The end result was fast-moving freight and plenty of take-home pay for drivers. Then regulations started to change things.

Over many years of government analysis and rule-making, we arrived at a point in 2018 where drivers are limited to 14-hour work days, of which only ten can be spent driving, tightly regulated by electronic logging devices (ELDs) that offer absolutely no flexibility.

All this regulation and technology may be making roads safer (at least in theory) but it is making it harder for companies like C.R. England to do business. They have less time to move freight, less flexibility when things get in the way, and fewer drivers willing to put up with the stringent regulations for the rate of pay they receive.

Paying Drivers for Downtime

Among the solutions suggested by Cassidy is that of paying drivers for all their time. This means not only time behind the wheel, but all on-duty time regardless of what is being done. This is where the hourly pay idea comes into play.

Under an hourly system, drivers would be paid even while they are sitting in the dock for two or three hours waiting on shippers to get a load ready. Drivers who got paid for that downtime would not be so bothered by a limited work day because they would still receive compensation one way or the other.

An hourly system would pay for all downtime; it would pay drivers even when they are stuck in traffic. It would pay them even when they are delayed by roadside inspections that are backed up due to one or two problematic trucks at the front of the line.

Hourly Pay May Be on the Way

Over-the-road truck driving jobs are essentially piecemeal work in their current form. Your average American worker is not fond of the piecemeal model no matter where it’s employed, so why would trucking firms think drivers are okay with it? They aren’t.

If Cassidy is correct, we could be on the verge of a new paradigm shift in how truck drivers are paid. Hourly pay across the board may be a lot closer than many industry insiders think.

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