I remember getting this weird email sent to me when I was a company driver with Schneider National asking if I wanted to comment on my pay. It was a part of a driver payroll survey performed by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Well, three years later, it seems they have taken another survey and it has some things I wanted to point out. Of course, rose-colored glasses are optional.
Will over-use of rose-colored glasses cause pink eye?
It never fails, when the big cats over at ATA put out a news release, I go looking for eye drops because it always seems to be too rosy to be true. John Kingston, Markets Expert over at FreightWaves, covered the media event at which ATA chief economist Bob Costello shared the good news that drivers made 18% more “pay” than in 2019.
The only thing I could not find in any of the news articles was if that 18% was gross pay or net pay. I “assume” it is gross pay, because of the multitude of differences between individual driver benefits and deductions. What I want to see is if drivers are able to bring home more bacon, or are they having to resort to potted meat.
Trucking companies are having to use better bait to get applicants
We’ve heard it a billion times – “there’s a driver shortage.” What I see is a better informed populace on how the companies treat their drivers. They are run ragged, weeks at a time, with only a day or two off a month. Mega-carriers consider your 34- hour restarts as days off, even when you are out on the road.
And don’t get me started on how they consider your personal home time as a “benefit” and actually reduce your pay for working dedicated accounts. I see you Marianna, Florida…
So what does Rooster see in this report you have to buy from at ATA by following the link. Common sense would tell you inflation is forcing pay higher to maintain the driver pool. Fees are constantly going up and the drivers have to pay for those. But one phrase from the summary really struck a nerve with me.
“Drivers are able to hit their ‘targeted salary’ by driving fewer miles”
I dare major trucking companies to show me a driver that only wants to bring home a “targeted salary.” Unless there are some amazingly insinuating circumstances, a driver wants to make as much money as possible without hitting $170,050 and entering the 32% tax bracket. There’s a big difference between 24% and 32% going to the taxman in April.
People know that employers only want you to get enough money to make it to the next payday, so you’re dependent on them to survive. It’s basic psychology and survival instinct. Drivers call mega-carrier pay “poverty pay” because they want you to be dependent on them to survive and not be able to go anywhere else to find a job.
Drivers don’t need a house if you’re a truck driver, you live in your truck. You don’t need money to buy food, you get reward credits when you buy fuel. Drivers don’t need to sit and have a hot meal, you can spend reward credits on roller dogs and a “free with a fill up” soda (350 calories per roller dog and 350 calories per 32-ounce soda twice a day is equivalent to the calories in a World Food Program ration.)
“All hours worked, all hours paid”
You are going to hear that phrase a lot this summer. Drivers are tired of being abused by carriers. It is time for a fundamental change in how drivers are treated. House mover miles should be outlawed. Being paid by zip code and not by road miles is larceny, in my opinion.