If you are a company driver and making hauls right now, consider yourself lucky. Several trucking companies have gone out of business in the last few months due to the economic downturn. And many owner-operators aren’t much more fortunate.
Owner-operators typically rely on job boards on freight brokers to find cargo to ship. Despite an initial rush of consumer purchases for essentials, the overall economic impact of the pandemic has led many companies to drastically reduce the amount of money offered to complete their shipments. And some freight brokers are even withholding pay altogether.
As a result, owner-operators are protesting diminished profits in Arizona, Texas, California, and at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Truckers at the White House
On Friday, May 1st dozens of truckers gathered around the White House, honking their horns. This 8 a.m.protest was conducted to alert authorities of the disservice truckers are experiencing by the hands of malicious companies and freight brokers.
The organizer, Rick Santiago, has worked in the trucking industry for about 21 years. In a statement the trucker made to The Washington Post, “This is our distress call to our commander in chief to address the problems we are facing. He has called us heroes — his heroes need his help now.”
According to ATA and other trucking organizations, the trucking business was largely left out of the economic bailout known as the CARES Act. The industry received no special funds from the $2 trillion stimulus package and many trucking companies or owner-operators found it difficult to apply for the allocated small business funds.
Owner-operators now report that freight brokers are taking advantage of the situation by squeezing the drivers out of the profits.
Norita Taylor, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association spokeswoman, stated that brokers tend to pass on “as little as possible to the small-business trucker,who also happens to be the one doing the most work and investing the most in equipment beyond a telephone.”
Although no official response was issued by the White House, the grassroots movement at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was not the only one to show up in America over the past few weeks.
Truck Drivers Rise Up Across the Nation
On April 24th, Thomas Ramirez and dozens of other truckers protested in a slow-roll from Los Angeles to San Bernadino to protest a 20% drop in salary. This is especially egregious when you consider what the group normally hauls: medical supplies.
This much-needed cargo is constantly in demand right now, yet owner-operators are not making enough to even cover the price of maintenance for their trucks. Typical hauls that would pay out over $1,800 are now earning closer to $350 according to Ramirez.
In a statement made to Business Insider, Ramirez said “We’re not going to work for free.”
Similar protests and wage reports are coming out of Arizona and Texas as well. Addiel Santos, an owner-op in Texas, has reported the payment for hauls from Houston to Odessa has fallen from roughly $1,900 to about $700 now.
Owner-operators are a driving force in the economy. We recommend communicating with your fellow drivers to identify shady freight brokers and to share information on wages, so that you can get the most out of your runs.