WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi met with independent truck drivers last week in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of the federal government’s efforts to help bolster the trucking industry during a time of supply chain woes.
At the roundtable, DOT officials spoke with truck drivers about how the FMCSA will work closely with its federal and state partners to address truck driver retention, wages, sufficient and safe overnight parking, along with barriers facing those wishing to enter the industry.
DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined the conversation virtually.
Truck drivers in attendance at the Charleston event highlighted the challenges of making a living without adequate support to improve detention times, particularly at shipping ports, but also at loading docks generally.
Juan Gordan, president of the South Carolina-based trucking organization Coalition 18, said, “We’ve lost two-thirds of our work. We used to make ‘6 turns’ a day, now we can only make ‘2 turns’ a day, and under these circumstances, drivers can’t survive. Younger truckers are no longer telling the stories that their fathers and uncles used to tell, instead they’re telling horror stories – the detention times are too long.”
Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), agreed, noting, “There’s a lot of talk about bringing new people into the industry, but we need to think about the quality of life for the people in the industry right now.”
Joshi’s visit to South Carolina took place the same day the Biden-Harris Administration Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce was announced during a White House forum co-chaired by Buttigieg, Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.
“It cannot be overstated how vital truck drivers are to every American family,” said Joshi, who announced on Dec. 20 that she would be leaving the FMCSA to take on a role as one of the deputy mayors of New York City. “As a nation, we count on truckers time and time again during crises. But truck drivers deserve not only our appreciation, but also our respect and support, including fair compensation, and safe and sufficient rest areas.”
The Trucking Action Plan included the launch of the joint Driving Good Jobs initiative, which marks a new partnership between DOT and DOL.
“This initiative directs FMCSA to take actions, including: conducting a series of truck driver and industry listening sessions around the country; studying the issue of truck driver pay and unpaid detention time; setting up a task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements; and identifying longer term actions, such as potential administrative or regulatory steps that support drivers and improve driver retention by raising the quality of trucking jobs,” according to a DOT news release.
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