Detention pay equates to socialism? Yeah, right!

By Joe Rajkovacz
OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist


Whenever I talk about loading and unloading issues, believe it or not, I’ll get nasty-grams about “how out of touch with reality” I am, or “how these issues don’t exist in the industry today.” Or best yet is the latest example of me being called a “socialist” because I’d dare speak and tell Washington the only fix for the loading and unloading problem is a law or regulation from Congress.

I get that some of you don’t see this as a pertinent issue. Maybe you are a free market ideologue and think that simply avoiding hauling any freight into or for an abusive shipper or receiver is a solution. That’s not how to fix a systemic problem in the supply chain. Nor will it ever work for the vast majority of truckers.

How do I know? As soon as you personally make your stand and refuse to serve an abusive shipper or receiver, someone else will always step in, thinking they can live with the issue, till they can’t, and the process continues until the end of time.

Returning to a federally mandated detention policy would actually encourage more efficient use of your time by everybody.

Those who think this is some kind of utopian socialist idea need to research the history of detention pay and demurrage. It actually originated in the maritime industry hundreds of years ago and exists today. See those ships in Baltimore, Norfolk, or LA-Long Beach? After 48 hours in port loading or unloading, charges based on tariffs can begin at $1 million per hour.

When’s the last time you heard a ship’s captain calling on the CB frantically asking if anyone had a “blank Comchek” so he could pay to get unloaded? It just doesn’t happen!

Detention/demurrage pay for truckers existed before 1982 and was a witting or unwitting victim (depending on your point of view) to the greater forces of deregulation.

The meaning in that is clear: The shipping community wanted the rules eliminated supposedly for the sake of building efficiency into the system.

Unfortunately, the reality of eliminating detention altogether was that the shoe was simply put on the other foot. LL