ATA, Driver Turnover isn’t what you think, it’s now EMPOWERMENT!
HOLD UP~the ATA has fallen off the turnip truck and bumped their dang head
If you haven’t taken the time to read the American Trucking Associations’(ATA) March 25, 2022 article “The Truth about Trucking Turnover”, you really are going to want to. I don’t know how in the world I missed it! I guess I was driving without a care in the world and living the dream, according to the ATA. But have no fear the word is out on the highway and many drivers like myself aren’t very happy with this total line of BS! I think a lot of you will feel the same way.
So if you want to stop reading right here I totally understand, but I don’t think you are going to want to. Because like myself you are probably realizing the writer of this blog from the ATA has definitely less experience in the trucking industry than my three-year-old grandson! And in my opinion he also has his foot in his mouth up to his knee.
I guess to start this off I should point out the second boldest statement of all that jumps out at me is a head scratcher for the ATA blogger to think, let alone type “most of whom have no real-world experience in trucking” speaking of “a new class of armchair experts – bureaucrats, essayists and other cultural commentators” and their “labor woes.” Yeah, this would be the beginning of ATA burning bridges with more than drivers in the trucking industry. Last I was aware, the ATA staff doesn’t write while driving trucks, so their knowledge is a big ole goose egg … Oh boy here we go.
ATA’s article was a spin on a recent New York Times opinion article https://www.trucking.org/news-insights/truth-about-trucking-turnover by Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein. The New York TImes (NYT) has been informed for many years why there is such a large turnover of drivers directly from ATA. The trade group has been one of the NYT’s main “go to’s” for this exact same information. ATA was acknowledging that the driver turnover was due to poor conditions and the many problematic issues drivers live with. The NYT is all about going directly to drivers and seeking experiences with issues of low pay, drivers’ standard of living, lack of hometime, parking and safety and working conditions. I can tell you this isn’t NYT’s first rodeo covering the life of truck drivers.
How do I know this? Because I am one of the drivers that The NYT has followed for several years at not only Hunts Point Produce Market but across the country to see what our life is about – with several on-point articles.
So let’s get into ATA’s article.
ATA stated that: “Turnover is not an indicator of people exiting the industry (we know, because ATA created and tabulated the metric). Rather, it more accurately measures drivers moving between carriers. It captures churn within the industry – not attrition from the industry. While retirements and exits account for a small percentage of turnover, by-in-large that is not what this figure is counting.”
“Captures churn” … I don’t know about you, but I know how I am “churning” right about now (pun intended). That whole sentence makes my blood churn to read. If ATA was monitoring all of us with its “METRICS” measuring stick, I’m really curious how it is monitoring the small carriers that make up 97% of all carriers today? Yes, 97% is the percentage of small trucking companies with 20 or fewer trucks and 90% of small trucking companies are made up of fleets of six or fewer trucks. That means ATA only represents 3% of the trucking industry but claims it represents the whole trucking industry. Oh, please!
Smaller companies aren’t allowed to join ATA because we aren’t big enough for its membership, as I was advised directly. So with the factual numbers of registered companies they will never convince me they have numbers. But hey, I have some ocean front property in Arizona, too.
If the ATA states that the number of drivers not exiting the industry is 91%, then where is the accurate movement data to show where these drivers went within the industry? (Keep the 97% and 3% in your mind right about now.) If ATA doesn’t have metrics for where the drivers went and they are still in the driver pool, couldn’t they easily be located in ATA’s magical metric database at another carrier?
Are you confused yet? Or are you thinking along the lines that ATA has “lost” the 91% of drivers who exited. In reality, ATA is working with metric numbers of 3% that have a 91% turnover, not the full 100% of the trucking industry.
I say they’ve lost the drivers. Those drivers have either vanished into thin air or Area 51 is taking applications.
Now let’s go to the part where you’re probably going to be like me … SMH!
ATA then continues “So when Kaiser-Schatzlein and others point to high turnover figures as a sign of truckers’ job dissatisfaction, they’re missing the mark. One could argue they’re getting it backwards. In many respects, high turnover is an indicator of driver empowerment. When the labor market tightens, drivers find themselves in the driver’s seat (pardon the pun), putting millions of hard-working men and women in control of their own destiny in ways they haven’t been in years, if ever. Many are seizing those opportunities that a booming freight economy present (sic) by moving to different companies for higher pay rates, bonuses, new routes or better benefits. No one can blame them, nor can anyone blame motor carriers who are competing vigorously with one another to hire good drivers and keep the ones they have.”
Okay. We all realize that what we are reading is the ATA has now turned the driver turnover problem into a full 180` turn and now there’s no such thing as drivers leaving the industry because of low pay, standard of living, hometime, safety and parking, but instead they are job-hopping for the bonus money! Okay, you can pick your chin up off the floor, as I did. ATA just said we have no issues. We don’t live daily with low pay, a poor standard of living, hometime issues, safety and parking issues and adequate training for new drivers per ATA. Ugghhhh! Who are these people and please put them back under their rock!
Yes, that’s what you read. Job-hopping is now empowerment for truck drivers to make $15,000.00 in ONE sign-on bonus. Anyone that knows how sign-on bonuses work, knows that this is so far-fetched it’s crazy. Sign-on bonuses are paid out over a year or more, so chasing them would take so long nobody could make a living job-hopping. Besides, if a trucking company is paying a $15,000 sign-on bonus right up front with no contract, then contact me and the other four million truck drivers in America.
Okay let’s go on, there’s more you’ll love (pardon the pun). ATA paints that we drivers are in full control of our pay, standard of living, hometime, safety, regulations, parking and the glorious life we live out here on the road 24/7/365. And that all the new drivers that are coming in – the new generation of drivers – know how to work this by job hopping for the bonus money because we drivers have a new empowerment that we can dictate and control our destiny. That all the things we experience in living as a driver and out on the road doesn’t exist. What the heck? They’re kidding, right? I need a couple of certain emojis right here; I need to become techy for things like this.
I will leave you with this, because I am still stewing over the slap in the face that implies we are looking at ourselves all wrong while we are doing the best we can to make a living during more tough days than sunshine and roses. The ATA has demeaned me and my fellow drivers – those that bust our ass day-in and day-out to keep food in their insulated mouths. And nobody, NOBODY has a right to downplay or blow us off with their personal opinion that can and will in some way come to harm someone down the road. That someone more than likely is a truck driver who is doing his or her best in an industry that regularly turns our life upside down. Someone who doesn’t know how inaccurate ATA’s opinions are, written by folks who don’t know what is true about our life on the road. Someone who will believe this load of bull might be our next shipper, receiver, broker or even carrier.
We were heroes during the pandemic as we kept the country alive. Living a tough life so those that think up these opinions can sit behind a desk and computer at home didn’t have to. I’m sorry to anybody who is having to drive a truck under this belief, because don’t believe it, there is always some kind of upside down irregularity in a driver’s world.
Don’t let anyone make you question yourself, so that you accept the things that don’t work for you. Own your good and accept the not so good. Today’s world isn’t going to get easier for a while; you just have to do your best and hang on. And pray!
Just remember that the 97% of small companies can’t be a metric to keep this country moving. Don’t fall for the words of one person writing an article no matter how big they feel they are. And keep reminding yourself that everything this country eats, touches or needs was brought by you and me, and a trucking company, facing the hardships to deliver to America every day.
It’s sad, but until this kind of mindset is squashed, the new and old drivers have less chance to know the truth and stay in this industry I love so much.
To Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein of The New York TImes – Kudos!! Thank you for your article and keep up the great work. The trucking industry needs more like you to help educate the general public. Thank you to The New York Times for stepping out and sharing what’s really going on with facts about our lives on America’s highways. See you in NYC in the future!
Read more articles by Ingrid Brown