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dry van truckload drivers to more than $73,000 for private fleet van drivers.” The study confirms that driver com-

pensation is not bad exactly; in fact, it is comparable to the figures of other careers. However, the lifestyle of drivers is foreign to most other careers. Lifestyle and compensa- tion really cannot be divorced. Overtime doesn’t start at 40 hours for drivers. For example, detention is an

inconvenient part of the job that isn’t always compensated. “They aren’t necessarily getting paid

for [detention]. It is kind of hurry up and wait . . . hurry-up-and-get-there, and then it takes six hours to unload. It’s like sitting in an airport for hours. It’s a waste of time,” Furnell says. “There are two different policies for

detention pay. Some companies pay no mat- ter what. Some companies pay but only if they get reimbursed because they bill the shipper. Some companies only pay if they get their money back from the shipper, and some shippers just won’t pay it,” she explains. These are hours on the clock, away

from family, but for many drivers, they are hours with no guaranteed pay. So while a driver’s salary may be the same as the aver- age household income, that may only be for the hours the tires are rolling. Of course, the recently (though per-

haps temporarily) reversed hours-of-service regulations affected wages for drivers as well, cutting back hours and productivity. And while driver pay comes in

different forms, many are paid by productivity. According to the driver compensation study, “three out of four fleets used multiple methods to pay drivers including the most frequent approach, paying some drivers by the mile and some by the hour.” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello

says that the data shows, “now more than ever, trucking is an excellent career path,” but the study also recommends that carri- ers cannot keep wages the same and expect the shortage to slow. “Given the lifestyle challenges, many

observers have suggested pay needs to rise into at least the low $60,000 range for over- the-road dry van drivers to close the short- age, and some say it needs to go even higher.”

In the last 12 months, more than a

handful of companies have raised wages for drivers including U.S. Xpress in August, Con-way in September and as recently as January 2015, Maverick Transportation. “Even very attractive driver jobs in

private fleets are going empty. Walmart, which pays drivers in the low $70,000 range, has of late been advertising exten- sively for drivers throughout most of 2014,” the study reports. The pay goes up to attract and keep

drivers as demand continues to rise, and benefit packages become more attractive, referral bonuses become more regular.

Wages’ role in keeping drivers It’s inevitable that when the economy

picked up, the wages would need to follow suit. And in the last year that has begun, but it has been a slow climb. Gordan Klempt, head of the National

Transportation Institute, says that wages for a dry van driver have gone from $0.36/mile (2007) to $0.372/mile (2013). Adjusted for inflation, those numbers are almost flat. “When you look at the pay over time

to see how it has gone up, it’s remained very flat. There hasn’t been a lot of increase. Thirty or 40 years ago, the average truck driver made what he’s making now or even more than he’s making now. That was a great wage, but the economy is not the same. We didn’t increase with it, and that certainly plays a huge factor in the retention in the industry for sure,” Furnell says. According to the American Trucking

Associations, large fleet turnover in 2014’s Q2 reached an annual rate of 103 percent, four percent over the same time in 2013 and the highest rate seen since the third quarter of 2012. Turnover at small fleets also reached its highest level in nearly two years at 94 percent, a full 12 percent higher than Q2 2013. Furnell says, “I know a driver who

works for ABF, and he’s been there for 25 years. You don’t hear that often. He’s there because the quality of life and pay. He gets paid a lot of money, and he can’t go to just an average trucking company and make that kind of money.” While some companies are raising pay to lower turnover, C.R. England has

announced they are raising pay for the driver trainers to avoid some of the trouble with fighting over drivers in the pre-exist- ing pool of licenses. They are investing, instead, in the ones responsible for helping to add new drivers to the pool.

Wage war? Furnell says, “A lot of our clients have

been in that retention fight. We’ve got to do something to keep them from looking at another industry or going to a private fleet. If private fleets are hiring again, that’s where they are going to want to go because they do have a higher rate.” With so many carriers choosing to

raise wages in an effort to keep the best drivers in their trucks, we can only wonder if we are on the brink of a wage war. It seems inevitable that the more large fleets raise pay, the more small fleets will have to follow to compete, dragging the industry to a place, once again, where compensation matches the life we ask drivers to live. “Change costs money, and change

costs an investment of something whether it’s time, resources or changing of process- es. So it doesn’t happen as quickly as we would all like, but I think we are beginning to see people are understanding the role they have in the driver population and growing the population,” Furnell says. While a turnover rate of above 100

percent is unique to trucking, the need to increase and offer competitive wages is a trend spreading across all industries, thanks in large part to state legislatures. Since the beginning of 2015, the laws

of 29 states and the District of Columbia require minimum wages in private employ- ment that are higher than the federal mini- mum wage of $7.25 per hour. Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska

and South Dakota approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general election. In 11 states, the state minimum wage was raised by legisla- tion in 2014; and in nine states, the state minimum wage automatically increased on January 1, 2015 because the minimum wage is indexed to cost of living statistics. So to appeal to potential employees, not

only does a carrier have to stay ahead of its competition, but also its state legislature. R

Summer 2015 33

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