Are Work Conditions for Truckers a Crisis?

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Long-haul trucking recently got some attention in the opinion pages of the New York Times. In an op-ed titled “Long-Haul Sweatshops,” Anne Balay and Mona Shattel argue that low driver wages and poor working conditions have created a crisis for the trucking industry.

Based on a our recent poll about detention, a lot of drivers feel that their time isn’t valued. Waiting around at the docks makes for long work days, but also less productive ones. The Times article also mentions Hours of Service, which is just one aspect of the maze of safety regulations that affect drivers.

The authors offered some examples of the obstacles facing law-abiding drivers:

Such steps are meant to keep our roads safe, and they indirectly help drivers. But it also leaves them exposed to inhumane and demeaning work conditions, including abusive amounts of surveillance and micromanaging. Truckers are told what route to take, where to buy gas and for how much, when and where to sleep. They work 14-hour days routinely and continuously, often without weekends, sick pay or holiday pay. They drive 11 of those hours, and perform other work for the remaining three: loading, vehicle maintenance and a lot of waiting.

How can we solve this? The authors suggest that Congress and government agencies should take a bigger role. But these issues are critical to the health of our industry. We need to solve them as a marketplace. The first step is acknowledging that it’s not just the drivers’ problem.

You can read the full story on the NYT website.

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