Line One
Truckers Speak Out

No profit? I’m out of business
by Paul from Pennsylvania

Isn’t it about time we start working on some guidelines on the rights of drivers and owner-operators, in regards to labor laws and abuses, both physical and economical. It seems to me that the bigger the ability to lie and steal, the more successful the business, and the less anyone can do about it. Recently Land Line did an article on “Sweatshops on Wheels,” and they touched on some very important topics with regard to wages and related subjects. 

I am a 50-year-old owner-operator who is going out of business due to declining profits. Not because of fuel or freight rates (which need to be raised), but due to abuses in leasing practices. My lessor decided not to pay me until I return from the next trip, which is averaging 20 days. He has held my settlement for as much as six weeks because my truck was being repaired; I did not make a trip, so he held my $6,200 settlement for six weeks. I realize the law says 15 days, but if you bring that up (as I did) now he refuses to load me. I mentioned the 15-day deadline to him on the advice of the OOIDA, and the result was that if I do not want to play the game, no matter if it does break the law, that he is ready to finish me off financially, which he has. 

I run three rounds a month, but get only one check one month, two the next. The bills keep coming in and by the time I get all three checks, I need five to pay current and past due. This cash flow problem has broken me and there is nothing in this world I can do about it. It’s happening all over the country. They have you by the jewels. You have no option, but to play or lose. One man, with one truck cannot survive financially on a 20-day payable schedule, unless you have capital backing or own your truck. I’m sick and tired of hearing about the cost of fuel. Get smart, we are the only service provider industry in the world that allows the customer to tell us what they will pay. Try going into the grocery store and telling the lady at the register you aren’t paying $1.50 for this item, you’re only paying half, and see how fast you are escorted to the door. It doesn’t take a wizard to figure out that the lack of intelligence within management is the problem, and government regulation is the solution. Instead of trying to make this a great industry to work in, they would rather steal, lie, cheat and retaliate against the commodity they need the most, manpower.

OOIDA response: In checking with the OOIDA Business Services department, I was able to verify you did call to inquire about provisions of the federal leasing rules. Your questions were answered and the conversation ended without you mentioning the name of the carrier you now say told you they would “finish you off financially.” I’m surprised I didn’t read about that conversation in the newspapers or hear about the explosion.

It is OOIDA policy to provide information about the rules; it is OOIDA policy to help members enforce these rules. OOIDA does these things on a regular basis, but our hands are tied when the individual truckers involved elect not to pursue enforcement of the rules and insist that carriers abide by them. You must insist!

While it is generally believed by many owner-operators that leases aren’t negotiable, that is only true to the extent that carriers can find owner-operators who will sign substandard leases or leases that don’t comply with the regulations. 

While we certainly agree that certain changes in the regulations are needed to correct industry problems that don’t seem correctable in any other way; when it comes to leases with carriers or agreements with brokers, YOU have the power. If they do not conduct business in an appropriate manner, don’t move their loads. They cannot survive without YOU.

Drivers should have no responsibility for pallets 
by Paul Nordeen of Brooklyn, NY

I sympathize with Mark and Renee Taylor regarding their pallet problems. Decades ago I ran the road. For the past 15 years, I have been a company P & D driver for Roadway Express in Brooklyn, NY.

I strongly believe that owner-operators should have no responsibility for pallets. We have a “New York” attitude toward customers and pallets. If you want it shipped on a pallet, you provide the pallet and wrap it in such a way that it will ride to the destination in good order. If we can’t clearly count the wrapped pieces, we only sign for receiving “one shrink-wrapped pallet.” And we charge you for the transportation weight of the pallet. If you don’t properly wrap the pallet, we will break it down and put the pieces somewhere that best serves the total load.

If a consignee receives a shipment that is palletized and wants it broken down, we will do so. But we don’t want “their” pallet and will insist that they take it and all the garbage from the wrapping and strapping. If the pallet is a standard size, I will ask the consignee if they want their pallet. If not, I do take it because I know there are many shippers who are always looking for pallets. I then give them to those shippers and they have a positive attitude toward Roadway and me.

Roadway backs this attitude toward pallets 100 percent. This is in their interest because they don’t want me bringing them back to clutter up our dock. Perhaps it would be good for owner-operators to insist on a clause in their contracts that clearly puts all pallet costs as a responsibility of their lease company. The company would then have an incentive to work out appropriate pallet agreements with shippers and receivers.