Sunday, July 28, 2013

Trucking Management Disconnect

The other day one of our drivers had a minor preventable accident. Jackknife on a lonely stretch of road in the rain. Non DOT reportable incident and frankly, I, as a one of the "management" team could have easily just had the guy return to the terminal, repaired the minor damage, and been done with it. No harm no foul. That's how it would have been done back in the day. We are however no longer "back in the day."

As it was I, at risk of losing my lucrative job, was obligated to report this to the safety dept. OK. No problem. Part of the gig. The real interesting part is that the driver is now to be suspended for a fairly long length of time (he doesn't know this yet certain as he is out on a long haul), go through "retraining" and be subjected to overt (and covert) surveillance. If this guy was a "problem child" then that would be par for the course however this man is a professional driver with years of experience who had a minor accident. It can happen to anyone. Somehow or other he does appear to have some inkling that disciplinary action is to be taken against him as we have already received a couple of "verification of employment" inquiries from competing firms. Can't say that I blame him.

In the world of chemical trucking there is very little difference between companies other than the nifty hats that seem to be part of the salary package. Oh sure some are marginally better than others. Among the major players in the big leagues, my particular employer is merely scraping the bottom of the barrel as opposed to some that are truly bottom barrel (CTL, Linden, and Tankstar aka Bob Schwerman come to mind). There are even a few that are a slight step above ( Superior perhaps and Enterprise until bought out by the Kennan Advantage Group), but none are what I would call a real good company to work for. Hard to find in trucking outside of some LTL and private fleets I suppose.

Back to the driver - He will likely, after being informed of the news of the corporate decision to "discipline" him, be wearing a different hat by the end of the week. Guess who's fault that will be for not "retaining" him? Our terminal "management" staff of course. Typical.

About the only thing good to come out of this is that all of us will lose our safety "bonus" of one to two hundred bucks. Good? Yes. Along with that little check comes a mandatory corporate type banquet where the powers that be fly down on their corporate jet, make inane speeches about nothing, and pass out baubles to the masses. Everyone sees through it and I for one am not going to miss  hearing snide (but  understandable) remarks from drivers, shop, and steam rack hands, about their pathetic wages (and in some cases near wage theft) while the big wigs fly around in Lear jets, limos, and (some) take side trips to high dollar "gentleman's" establishments.

Yes it is worth a couple hundred bucks to just not have to attend that clown show.
For a while at least. Sooner or later we will reach or "safety goals."


Jayhawk said...

My nephew drives long haul for a FedEx contractor. He got one bogie wheel off of the pavement and dumped a trailer in the process of getting back on. Highway patrol was right behind and did not ticket him, but he got fired after four years with a spotless record.

He did say that part of the reason for dumping the trailer was that he did not know if the lane was clear beside him, and my comment was "Why not?"

Back in my day we had to pay our own overweight fines, despite the fact that we did not load our trailers, merely chained them down. I finally got fed up, marched into the office and told the boss, "When you pay this fine I'll tell you where your truck is." He paid and I was wearing a new hat then next day.

Bartender Cabbie said...

It is no longer a fun job for most of the drivers out on the road. Technology has reached a point where almost every single thing is analyzed and of course "Monday morning quarterbacked." The older folks are leaving the industry in droves and it is darn hard to find younger ones who last more than a few months.

It is getting more and more interesting every day to see shippers scramble and nearly beg to have their freight hauled.
A bit different from when I first got into the industry.

Jayhawk said...

"A bit different from when I first got into the industry."

You and me both, and in more than just trucking. Many of the hijinks I pulled in the Navy that got overlooked, or merited a mere slap on the wrist, would be treated as high crimes and gotten me discharged today.

Sad. We did a lot of good with crappy equipment. Just the reverse today. Sophisticated equipment that doesn't get the job done.

Bartender Cabbie said...

That is true. Sophisticated equipment does not get the job done. At this time my company has a driver "survey" going on, anonymous of course, where drivers get to say what is one their mind.
The outcome of that is predictable.