Hen... Trucking in Sacramento used to be almost all company drivers. And made a lot of money for the company owner. Then the authorities started actually enforcing the Hours of Service regulations, and then the economy slowed dramatically. Hen... started losing money.
Recently, they started pulling the well-known stunt of turning their employees into contractors. They lease the truck to the driver, and then the driver leases the truck and himself back to the company. Just one big paper-shuffle. But in that shuffle, the company quits paying all the costs that they would normally pay for an employee -- medical coverage, unemployment insurance, Workers Compensation (job injury) insurance, Social Security tax, and so forth. All these become the responsibility of each "owner-operator". And my contact in the office tells me that Hen... is now profitable again.
So, since the Company went from non-profitable to profitable, where did that money come from? The customers are not paying any more, because they would switch to an other carrier in a heartbeat. So the money HAS to come from the workers.
The 3000-miles-a-week guys are coming out ahead. All the rest are coming up short.
Truck drivers are a commodity -- a very expendable commodity. I spent a year in Hen...'s office, hiring the drivers. Very nasty business. I went back on the road.
And for the first time in a couple of decades, in this economy, there is no driver shortage. So the carriers can happily run a revolving door for hopeful "owner-operators".
I just talked to my brother who lives in Norway and used to run a small fleet of delivery vans. He said they do the same shit there. It's in the nature of the industry, the dream of working for yourself, and the vulnerability of the folks who have to resort to truck driving for a living. (Like me.)
SOME company drivers get into a good situation. And SOME O/Os do very well. As a company driver at Hen..., I almost made my own rules, because I'm so valuable -- my work is so reliable and cost-efficient. But I work very hard to maintain that standard. So hard, I could not take it any more -- I have not set foot in a truck in 18 months. Luckily, I can go back, part time, anytime I want -- and do their dirty work again, by the mile, loaded and empty. That "dirty work" consists mostly of recovering trucks that drivers have abandoned somewhere in the country. I've picked up trucks in the guys own driveway, in truckstops, drop yards, shopping center lots.... Once in a while the guy hasn't quit, but is being fired -- and nobody told him yet, nor me. Can you say "repo man"?
Being around this work since 1982, I have developed the opinion that there are very few legitimate opportunities for a man with his own truck. And the "one dollar trucks" are at the bottom of the list of the not-so-legitimate.
That concludes today's sermon. As you were.