Owner Operators United Incorporated
Representing Owner Operators and Company Drivers Worldwide

Practical Truck Driver Training Solutions Part 2

June 23rd, 2010 . by TruckerDesiree

Dan1The root core problem in truck driver training is irresponsible recruiting and predatory lending. We always come back to one word, GREED !

Greed over safety seems to be a recurrent theme over the past few months. The tragedy of the coal miners in West Virginia and the devastating BP Oil Spill that may very well impact generations to come.

Right under our complacent noses the federal government has been running an indentured servitude operation and it is called “The Truck Driver Shortage “.

Following the first Dan Rather Investigative Report into Truck Driver Training called “Queen of the Road” feeble remarks meant to imply a lack of credibility of the interview subjects were quickly published in an article by The Trucker inferring the persons interviewed were not credible and/or disgruntled. Perhaps before the advent of social media this would have done the trick to extinguish any glimmer of hope that the outside world might begin to take an interest to the issues that affect truck drivers.

Highway Safety pertains to everyone therefore revealing just how truck drivers are trained has been a secret the trucking industry had hoped to conceal.  Any responsible adult should be gravely concerned with this topic and be able to easily conclude that personal safety and highway safety are interwoven once you understand that in order to learn to drive a truck you must live cheek to cheek with a stranger.

For our non-trucking readers it is difficult to comprehend that the very trucking industry organizations that claims to exist in part to delve into advocacy for highway safety are perhaps the greatest foe to the American Driver. The American Trucking Association most definitely does not work on behalf of drivers but rather large carriers who push the scope of what humans can accomplish with a constant barrage of regulations, rules, intimidation tactics and retaliation while at the same time cultivating a public media persona.

This double faced organization is the epitome of all that has destroyed our nation. Corporate greed coupled with narcissistic arrogance that devours the American worker whose loyalty is no longer valued. At every echelon of this industry it is difficult to determine whether you are speaking to a saint or dealing with the devil. These organizations have mastered abuse like a parent that beats their child in private and dresses them in fine clothes for Sunday school that perfectly cover every contusion. There seems to be a never-ending stream of recruiting ads and phony social media sites to target truck drivers and prospective students painting a picture to portray drivers as having a safe, secure, and rewarding job, hiding the abusive and threatening tactics that are used against them as a means of manipulation and control.

The ATA is one of the most deceitful organizations I have ever come to learn of and I cannot imagine an organized crime family could have their meat hooks in any deeper to distort the truth about what their “business” is or consists of.  It was truly never my intention when I began writing my original student trucker story to discover these things but had it not been for an eager collaborator to the ATA , I would have never known.

Why would an organization put forth so much effort and continue with such tenacity, arrogance and sense of privilege to cover up and manipulate one person’s story?

The matter became so disturbing that it grew much greater than myself or the issue of women entering trucking but how this giant government funded monster was poised to prey on the most disenfranchised people it could get it tentacles on.  How many have been harmed simply because true stories were being manicured off the internet to suit recruitment machines?

I have always been mindful that I was creating an opportunity for the greedy & unethical.  I say this because when the attempts to cover my story failed, the very organization who tried to cover it up made sure to insert their name as a resource to solve the problem. They have failed to make it a priority and I see that it was merely another method to grab a headline.

It is 2010 and it seems only the trucking industry is still in the dark ages with regards to violence against women yet there is targeted recruitment aimed at the female population who many times are promptly put in a “Acquaintance Rape ” Situation in order to learn to drive the truck.

The NFL Players Association has Joined the Justice Department Effort to Raise Awareness Around Violence Against Women , The Office on Violence Against Women for the United States Department of Justice provides enormous resources but big trucking chooses DENIAL .

The only evidence I have seen to address the issue has been AFTER lawsuits become public as a PR remedy.  This is why I have persisted; I had no choice when faced with the thought that I had the ability to reach someone who needed to find help.

This site was created to provide self-help tools when it became clear that the trucking industry will spend any amount of money to cover up human indignities rather than correct them.

Trucking has a very incestuous relationship with itself“, this was the phrase a veteran driver used to describe the many organizations, associations and media entities related to trucking.  As a civilian entering this industry I was in search of where I could go to find answers to what I was seeing in my training fleet. What I learned was that my experience was no mistake, it was a system that has been perfected to a science to generate turnover, to keep wages low by utilizing student labor running team freight to maximize profits.

Upon researching who is behind all the recruiting ads, industry magazines and controlled trucking media sources the world of trucking became a very small and the same names kept popping up. It seems everyone has been “in bed” with one another at some point.

It is not unusual in the trucking industry to steal content, plagiarize or take credit for another person’s hard work. It is not unusual to blatantly create a media campaign to cover up injustice. It is not unusual for someone to insert themselves into the center of a project and claim victory after the blood, sweat & tears of the invisible have been shed. What is unusual, is to go the extra mile to do the right thing and bring positive changes to the industry.

Recruitment generates recurring income NOT retention. The effects of positive change would result in: The retention of content and satisfied workers, who remain loyal because they receive their reward through pay raises, respect and benefits.  However, treating drivers in a humane fashion would negatively affect company profits. Turnover and recruitment of new drivers generates increased recurring income and profit. Ironically, the desire is to lure people in through seduction, only to promote failure and create higher profits by maintaining a high turnover rate.

Professional drivers are often vilified by their own industry in a subtle way when in fact it is the industry that pushes, prods and provokes drivers to do things outside the realm of their responsibility.

New regulations like FMCSA CSA 2010 make it seem that highway safety is a main concern yet according to Dan Little President of the Owner Operators United Inc.  “CSA 2010 fails to address the pattern of abuse in truck driver training.” But before we discuss training there is the abuse of predatory lending to attend truck driver training schools.

Predatory lending and poor recruitment go hand in hand dumping themselves into a poor training atmosphere where odds are you can get a few months of cheap labor at the expense of the motoring public. In 5 or 6 months commissions are paid to recruiters, the carriers qualify for the government hand outs while at the same time utilizing a less than minimum wage inexperienced workforce to run freight.

A very curious omission in the statistic loving trucking industry is how many trucking accidents are caused by student truckers by comparison to experienced truck drivers.

There is no doubt that CSA 2010 will change the face of trucking and many jobs will be lost to those who cannot adapt. The seven sections are for the most part good on intent and do hold carriers more accountable.  Still there are a few components that create a witch hunt on experienced drivers.

Without addressing predatory lending, Poor recruitment and truck driver training CSA 2010 have simply provided another tool sanctioned by the federal government to further assist in generating turnover.

For example: Last month I read of a student truck driver who was 20 days into training and trying to care financially for a disabled fiancé. The student was being delayed to make income due to the new sleep apnea testing that is a component to CSA 2010. (Read posting HERE )

My question is simple: Why was this person not informed prior to selling them a loan for truck driving school that sleep apnea is now an issue to become a truck driver?  This really bothers me that a person whose life is already in distress is wading around blindly searching the internet for answers when in fact they are simply just another notch in some recruiters’ belt!

Since the announcement of the CSA2010 Sleep Apnea issue for truck drivers I have heard of 3 people who have been fired based entirely on this one issue not their driving abilities.  If this is what is coming down the pike why are recruiters and carriers allowed to mislead people into the hope of a new career only to yank the rug out from under them a few months or days later?

One trainer shares this story:  He was assigned a student with sleep apnea, the student stated from day one his doctor warned that he could not travel to high elevations.  As student truckers you go where you are told but your recruiter or training company will not disclose this to you. In this case, the trainer and student were dispatched to Colorado. The trainer advised dispatch the student could not travel to Colorado for medical reasons.  The dispatcher refused to un-assign them from the load.

Most people do not realize that refusing a load can be detrimental to your career and working relationship. This is called forced dispatch. The trainer had to take the load and the student died. The family sued, the case was quietly settled and shoved under the carpet with the rest of the skeletons.

In another case former Swift trainer from Smart Union Blog talks about being given a student with narcolepsy , the sleeping disorder!  This is irresponsible recruiting and predatory lending.

A former female trainer told me about a student she was assigned who had a terrible skin disease where the skin was flaking off in the bed that they had to share. Another time having to be with someone who suffered from shingles which can be contagious.

Targeted recruitment at women is extremely misleading and this is excessively dangerous. One blog I read last week stated Women Truck drivers can make $60,000 a year!  They say nothing about what you have to do to make this. They also make no mention that for women there are specific dangers such as being thrown off the truck in the desert if you refuse to have sex with a trainer or co-driver. Listen to Ronald Fletcher in the Video Clip:
                      RAW SOUND BYTES ON HARASSMENT FROM A TRUCKING CONVENTION

These ads are deliberate to mislead people and entice them to go to truck driving school.  They are targeted to people who have no experience in the cloak and dagger trucking industry that uses people in a government subsidized indentured servitude operation.

Here is a sample: Truck Driver Jobs For Women in a Google search this person has several sites all leading to him, all the ads are misleading and predatory. This is the new spam where someone sits and creates website after website to appear as if it is a social media blog site with a testimonial.  Who do they cite as an authority? Read this Jobs & Business Blog to find out. “Great Truck Driving Jobs for Female Drivers

Nuway Truck Driving school, the subject of the 3rd installment of the Dan Rather Investigative series into trucking “Mind Your Loan Business” was discovered as suspected to be in the loan selling business. Besides the poor training they provided they stood to gain from disenfranchised people who failed on their student loans which were sold to them a high interest rate. This school I was told by Tom Hansen formerly of CRST had such poor students that CRST had stopped accepting them.

Predatory lending and predatory recruitment are for the purpose to take advantage of people for profit.  In truth, it is very difficult to remain employed after completing your student phase from Michigan, South Florida and some western states due to the availability of freight. Selling loans to these people and using them for cheap labor at less than minimum wage is wrong.

The carriers utilize this disposable cheap labor force to run team freight for a short period of time and then toss them out before they have made enough money to pay off their student loans but long enough for the carriers to benefit for the recruitment commissions, tax incentives and subsidies to retrain workers. Many of these people receive government vouchers for these schools, therefore it is the U.S. Government who is funding and perpetuating this abuse and unethical treatment.

CSA 2010 does indeed propose greater enforcement standards for truck drivers and carriers but it does not address the rampant ethical considerations and the hostile training atmosphere that affect highway safety.
 

A worker has right to be trained in a safe manner therefore prospective truck driver students should have full disclosure of what is expected before they sign on for a loan. The job should be clearly defined that it requires 11 hours of driving a day, they should understand they will not be able to shower for days on end, that they will have to clean out trailers and not be paid for it., that they will have to keep strict schedules that require driving all hours of the day and night in all weather. They should understand they will be stretched to the limit at times that stopping to use a toilet is not possible! That is a truth about trucking.

Big Trucking has built a complex system that is so interwoven into many government entities that it can literally control wages and treatment to professional drivers at the expense of highway safety.  The Department of Labor classifys Truck Drivers as Unskilled Labor, the lack of accurate crash statistics of student truck drivers, the gross oversight of pattern of abuse by truck driver trainers to women entering trucking and the method of retaliation for reporting abuse. The false DAC reporting, this list goes on and on. These are all control mechanisms’ built over years to control workers and keep them silent and afraid.

Big Trucking expects to ignore two massive sexual harassment/discrimination cases going on right now and fails to address the training atmosphere while at the same time deluge media to claim 400,000 truck drivers are needed by 2011. This is a typical arrogant example of greed and privilege. There is not now nor has there ever been a truck driver shortage.  It is true there exists a population of truck drivers who should not be on the highways but without addressing training and recruitment the government is simply giving the nod to sponsor more of the same.

As it stands right now, taxpayers will be left with the $4.5 Million dollar legal bill for the failed EEOC case against CRST Van Expedited should they lose the appeal currently in court.  Is that the remedy? Let the EEOC babysit the trucking industry with a never-ending revolving door of cases from women claiming almost verbatim the same abuse?  Has CRST corrected its training system?

They say they have BUT according to 3 recent female grads who have contacted me they were never advised of instructions to assist them for an emergency procedure before leaving the terminal with trainers and co-drivers. All encountered later retaliation attempts and humiliation for reporting incidents. They have since been advised to proceed and file more claims against CRST in 2010, this is AFTER the fact.

 The problems exist because the trucking industry has been permitted to police themselves with their treatment of drivers while at the same time the federal government strangles drivers with rule after rule making it near impossible to complete the job.

We are in a transitional time and while some corrections may have been made in the past few years, these pervasive problems need to be monitored and inspected to make certain they continue to operate effectively.

With regards to women entering trucking, inappropriate trainers and a lack clear defined safety precautions have not been fully addressed. The advice stated in the “Raw Sound Bytes on Harassment from a Trucking Convention” for Women who have encountered abuse during training is to call the EEOC. This is not a solution! That would be like a landlord of an apartment complex refusing to repair a heater telling his tenants to go to the Doctor if they get sick rather than replace the heater. The solution should be to prevent it from happening to begin with!  The federal government with its layers of red tape should not have to babysit the trucking industry! For all its good intentions the EEOC trying to tangle with high powered trucking industry lawyers is an uneven playing field. Ultimately, this is taxpayer money, think about it.

On May 20, 2010 The Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed an agreement with the Women’s Transportation Seminar International (WTS) to encourage more women to enter the transportation sector stating: “There’s tremendous opportunity out there for women interested in transportation-related careers,” granted he was speaking of “Skilled Careers” but what better experience in the transporation sector than doing the actual transporting? Secretary LaHood also said “We need to do more to prepare, train and educate young women about the possibilities that await them .”

This is our mission, we must acknowledge the silent struggles of women truckers and students. Our collective failure to address the topic has handed the keys to the offenders.

The American Trucking Association would like for people to believe that there is a truck driver shortage but in fact everything points to a strategic effort to rid American Drivers with experience for H2b workers who are yet another cheap labor force.  Just read how clever this organization website H2B Workforce Coalition words their mission. Who is on the executive committee?  The American Trucking Association!

H2B brings workers from other countries legally to take American Jobs and again it is to maximize profit and abuse disenfranchised people LEGALLY! Read, “Used and Abused: Guest Workers and Immigration Reform

The movement to close the border to illegals is one very sensitive issue but the ATA is actually positioning itself to legalize workers from other countries to take American driving jobs and package it as “HELPING“!

National Security, think about this:  A person applying for a learners permit to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) who can pass a 50 question multiple choice question test and pass a background check is eligible for a hazardous materials endorsement yet they have never proven they can operate the truck!
Our background check system has cracks so wouldn’t the above scenario permitting H2b workers give carte blanche on hauling freight with an elevated security clearance?  Isn’t it more common to see many non-English speaking student truckers lately?  How do we know what their criminal history is in the country they came from?  If the Transportation Security Administration background check goes through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, wouldn’t that show as a clean slate in the system?

Don’t just blame the government, read the list of American Companies who benefit from doing this and pay attention. The next time you stay in a motel note that the maids may be all blond hair and blue eyed but do not speak English.

If there is a shortage of anything in the trucking industry it is ethics among trucking industry insiders.  Making remarks like “Our collective experience is over 300 years in trucking” (one which was directed to me recently) has got to be one of the most ignorant statements I have ever heard given that the automobile is just over 100 years old!

Who is responsible to insure our highways are safe?  Why hasn’t poor truck driver training been addressed?  Are student truck driver’s expendable human chattel?  The responsibility of course rests upon the ATA and the carriers it represents to address and enforce preventative training.  Why is the advocacy page of the ATA agenda suspiciously absent of the human factor that requires any truck to move?

Will the federal government continue to give free reign to Big trucking as it has been doing for Big Coal and Big Oil?
These Highway Safety and Personal Safety and National Security Issues need to be addressed in Trucking before we have a disaster.

I have interviewed a number of seasoned truck drivers and come away with a very reasonable list of solutions.

1. Full disclosure to entering truck driver candidates before they obligate to a loan or utilize a “Workforce Investment Act” voucher paid for by our tax dollars, a “Bill of Rights”.

2. Raise the training standard for both operation of equipment AND conduct.

3. Require a graduated licensing system for truck drivers.

Tracy Hamm of the CRST Sexual Harassment Case and former trainer feels strongly that new drivers stay under permit longer. She notes that new teen drivers have to drive with a permit and limited driving privileges in some states while those who get a commercial drivers license to drive an 18-wheeler do not.
Truck driver trainers I have interviewed agree that school should be longer in class and on the road.  The student truck drivers should clearly understand what it means to be going “Over the Road” and what is involved to perform deliveries before they sign on for loans.

The federal government has created a welfare system for the handful of truck driver training carrier companies who appear to be profiteering off the government as evidenced by the ongoing 125% turnover rate. These carriers should be held to a higher standard to teach proper highway safety and conduct skills. The taxpayers have a right to expect their tax dollars are producing an effective workforce that is mindful that they are not only truck drivers but also the eyes and ears for national security. Times have changed and we must adjust our thinking.

Training should include classroom time of conduct skills with testing and signed contract that the student agrees to abide by or be fired. This includes Trainers who have a higher standard of conduct.

The harassment problem is unique in trucking due to the intense living arrangement required to learn to drive the truck.  Some carriers like CRST Van Expedited and Covenant Transport who have the “Team Business Model” as a component of their training must address this topic.

The armed forces are the only other training situation that can be remotely compared to truck driver training and they too are struggling to adapt as the introduction of women increases.

To fathom that being raped, beat up and left for dead in the desert is a common story in trucking while in your training period is absolutely unacceptable!

As a whole, we must address the disparity of recruitment vs. retention of Women Truckers. By raising the standard in other areas we create professionalism and boundaries.

Training in sexual harassment at government subsidized truck driver training companies is virtually non-existent except for scattered surface treatments and we will continue to see suits arise like the massive CRST case until we can come to grips with speaking openly about this highly unusual teaching environment and how to make it work.
I have included a replay of a Blog Talk Radio made in December 2009 on truck driver training solutions. Tom Hansen former safety manager of CRST was scheduled to join the show but had a family emergency that prevented him.

Tom Hansen appeared in the first Dan Rather Episode and spoke about the conflicts of interest he encountered at CRST and these are not unique either. It is a system that exists in truck driver training that is neither safe for the students or the motoring public.

Tom Hansen is not a disgruntled employee as the ATA and CRST tried to portray. Tom Hansen & Tracy Hamm are Heroes who decided to step forward to try and effect a change so that no one else would be hurt. Shortly after the broadcast I read remarks from one of Tom Hansen’s co-workers from CRST and he made it clear that Tom was respected in the company but his conscience simply began to eat at him.

At some point we must come to grips with the truth that our silence has potentially harmed someone who simply wanted a chance for a new life.

I encourage you to watch all 4 installments of the Dan Rather Investigative reports into trucking, especially if you know NOTHING about the trucking industry.

They can be downloaded from iTunes for $1.99 each. The titles are as follows:

Queen of the Road“, “Truck Talk“, “Mind Your Loan Business” & “Haul or High Water
You can also learn more about how truck drivers are set up to fail as a matter of practice in Allen Smith’s

 ”Truth About Trucking

In the next installment I will discuss personal responsibility.

*** Please visit the REAL Women In Trucking site to read comments and other related articles

Additional Reading: (all links in post are links to additional reading also)
 

Wage Slavery – Methods of Control in Wage Systems

Bound for America H-2A Guest Worker Program

H2b Visa to Rescue Driver Shortage

H2b Visa Tractor-Trailer

Violence Against Women in the Military

Sexual Assaults in Military bring Shame Not Action

War with Ourselves: Sexual Violence in the Military

Male on Male Harassment in Trucking – Cagle v. Werner Enterprises