This is quite a quandary to discuss. Drivers and logistics companies are all suffering equally right now. Enterprise carriers are in “whale mode,” taking all the freight that their capacity can handle.
Solo owner-operators and small fleets are “sharks,” hunting the lucrative contracts and unicorn loads using relationships built during the COVID pandemic when freight rates were at the highest in the cycle.
So why doesn’t everyone band together and put their collective feet down and shut the trucks off, creating a massive logistical trainwreck and forcing a rebuild of the industry from the ground up?
Independent drivers, unionized drivers, and corporate drivers are three different breeds of felines to herd
Like house cats, Bengal tigers, and lions, truckers are the same job, per se, but are segmented by how they operate. Let’s look at each and see why they will never work together.
True independent drivers answer to no one but themselves. Their situation is one in which a poor decision can land them squarely in bankruptcy court if they are not careful.
With freight rates in the tank, as witnessed by recent linehaul rates excluding fuel costs going back to sub-$2.00 per mile for the first time since the pandemic began, drivers are back to penny-pinching, trying to survive the rate drought.
Drivers that expanded too late during the rate boom and were not able to rebuild their nest eggs for the cycle lows are in trouble. They do not have the funds to sustain themselves for a long period of time, especially a 1970s-style shutdown.
Why would unionized drivers ever dare to shut down and risk their lucrative contracts? Union drivers, many represented by various Teamsters union halls, would not dare to stop work because it would mean serious legal consequences.
While having that high-paying and benefit-packed contract means the best pay possible, it also serves as a muzzle to keep a shutdown from happening while the contract is held over their heads. It makes one wonder why someone would ever agree to surrender their right to free speech for a better paycheck?
Company drivers are not going to stop work because they do not want a “black mark” to go on their DAC record. That employment history check serves as a line of communication between companies; it tells them whether they should hire this driver – or could he or she cause a problem in the future.
Even with the 150%+ turnover rate, large carriers still will not hire drivers they cannot count on to operate their equipment and produce the highest profit margins possible. I can hear the echoes in my head of “maximize fuel mileage and minimize idle time”. As long as there are “fish in the sea,” companies will not be worried about culling a few disobedient drivers.