by David P. Gaibis of Newcastle, PA
In response to the article in the April 2000 ITJ Herald, titled “OOIDA, Safety Advocates Oppose TCA Proposal” on testing a program that would grant CDLs to drivers 18-21 years of age. According to Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) President Robert Hirsch, the military has proven young people can be trained to perform complex tasks. So can monkeys. The military, with our tax dollars, pays, feeds, clothes, houses and takes care of all medical expenses for these young people. Will the TCA motor carriers do all this for these young people? Will our tax dollars be subsidizing TCA’s 18-21 training program as we did for the Hunt, Schneider and Werner driver programs?
Hitler did the same thing to the young people in Germany during WWII. They were so programmed and brainwashed, they even turned their parents in to the Gestapo. TCA will “train” these young people to work cheap, 70 hours on duty weekly, and work an additional “unpaid 40 hours,” waiting for “required” unscheduled work calls and waiting to be loaded or unloaded, logged as “off-duty.”
According to Kristen Monaco, a University of Wisconsin economist, a non-union truckdriver averages $36,000 a year for a 63-hour workweek and more than 100,000 miles of driving. She said if the trucking industry really wants to recruit safe drivers, they need to pay them better. Her research found that there is a relationship between better pay and improved levels of safety. This would be the union truckdriver. If you do the math, $36,000 a year breaks down to $692 a week, $10.99 per hour for a very important, responsible job. This $692 a week is before taxes and road expenses, which are sky high. These motor carriers are in business to move freight, not people, so they could care less if a driver ever gets home.
If this program is approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), I’m sure that TCA will paint these young people a rosy picture, but will leave the safety, health and math class out. Again, there’s no profit in safetyor health.
There is no end to what these motor carriers will do with the help of the government and low paid, free labor truckdrivers to keep safety and profit-minded drivers as third class citizens.
Per USA Today Feb. 5, a Mexican truckdriver working for Grupo Easo, Mexico’s biggest trucking company (49 percent owned by M.S. Carriers), makes $300 a week driving 3,000 miles. The Mexican driver is paid 10 cents a mile.
I see NAFTA as a definite threat to our standard of living. We, as American workers, should demand our government get us out of NAFTA immediately to protect our workers’ standard of living and make public safety our country’s number one priority.