Truckers Unite!

There was a time when driving a long-haul truck was a pretty good job. They had organized a strong union, and had decent wages, conditions, health care benefits, and more. It was said that in order for a person to get a job in that field, someone else had to retire.

(Yeah, I am quite aware that much of the Teamsters union leadership has been often extremely corrupt and in cahoots with organized crime. That sort of nefarious activity never benefits the rank-and-file workers!)

After deregulation began around 1980, many trucking companies sprung up that were anti-union, and required their drivers to work longer hours and more miles for less pay and fewer benefits. Right now, the annual turnover rate in the trucking industry is over 90% per year! Think about what that means!

Very simply, this is because driving a long-haul truck is now such a crappy job that workers very frequently quit. That’s why one sees billboards advertising for anybody with a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL), because the companies are desperate for warm bodies behind those wheels. One result of all these brand-new, inexperienced drivers, is that since 2009, there has been a serious increase in the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses> Not only the absolute number of crashes, but also if you divide the number of such crashes by the total number of miles driven.

See these two graphs that I prepared using data from the US DOT. While this data does not go past 2018, my understanding is that the pronounced upward trend continued into the current pandemic era as well. Part of the reason is that drivers are exhausted — IIRC they generally don’t get paid for all of the time that they have to wait around for somebody either to load or unload their truck, nor for time stuck in traffic: just by the mile.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the many truckers that have to poop and pee into little containers in their sleeping compartments, because there is nowhere else to do that? Not fun.

It looks like nearly a 50% increase in the total number of fatal crashes from 2009 to 2018

If all long-haul truck drivers organized themselves properly into a strong, honest union, and were able to prevail against the billionaires and banks that own the big trucking firms, they could do a lot of good for themselves and the public as a whole by reducing their actual work hours to something manageable, thus avoiding exhaustion and many of the accidents and near-misses that happen when a driver is drowsy. In addition, with better pay and benefits and more reasonable hours, then we would have many fewer people uninsured or bankrupt, more stable family lives, more home ownership, and all the rest.

It would be a hell of a struggle though, because the bankers and billionaires (including Jeff Bezos, who owns the Amazon juggernaut) that own those trucking lines do not want to reduce their profit margins.

Remember: if all long-haul bus and truck drivers were to go on strike, then the whole country would grind to a halt.

It would be a far better struggle than the idiotic MAGA caravan that is currently going around the DC beltway, whose main complaints seem to be that they don’t like any of the COVID vaccines and that they think that the last election was stolen.

Judging by the signs on their vehicles, that pitiful handful of deluded men that I saw on the Beltway a few days ago appear to think that 20-to-1 odds **against** you is a good bet — because those who are unvaccinated are 20 or more times likely to get seriously sick and die from COVID than those who are fully vaxxed and boosted. (link)

I guess that’s the job of fascists: to prevent working people from uniting against the actual ruling class of billionaires and bankers, and instead to get workers to fight each other along racial, ethnic, or linguistic lines.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Back around 1900, when Teddy Roosevelt was president (I read the Bully Pulpit), there was this debate that labor unions were corrupt.

    Teddy sided with the labor unions and basically said corruption was not exclusive to labor unions and without the labor unions workers had no way to fight back against corrupt bosses and businesses.

    So, the corporate attempt to kill off labor unions early failed, but it seems that over the last 122 years, those corrupt, greedy corporations have succeed to almost get rid of labor unions and return to a world of wage slaves. Back in 1900, the poverty rate in the Untied States was around 40%, and workers (including children as young as 7) had no protection from greedy and/or abusive busses.

    Corruption and greed never rests.


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