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Travels of a Trucker The H & R Way or No Way

December 26, 2011

A few years ago…actually many years ago now, I found a job which I thought might be the job for me to last me until my retirement. As time passed I realized just how quickly I was wrong about my ideas of being a long term driver for this company. With no office in the Delta area and only a yard, no communication except through Satellite dispatch, an unwillingness to give it’s employees Christmas Parties (we had to pay for our own Christmas Party), and clothing or job uniforms weren’t given out freely, they were sold to the employee who was providing them free advertising. The wage was low starting at $17 for the first 3 months, then bumping up to $18 for one year, $19 for second year and the third year and thereafter maxing out at $20 for the remainder of service. The lead hand who has been there forever and is still there to this day is rumored to be making $21 after I think almost 20 years of service! There were no benefits provided until after 6 months and even then one had to ask for them to include you in their plan. Anyways, I will elaborate more on why I am cutting them up in the following paragraphs.

When I first started with this company, I was pretty happy obviously. I was working local. I was able to be home daily. I was part of a large organization (even if there was no communication between other drivers or with management) and I was getting lots of hours. The dispatcher I had at that time gave no thought to how much overtime anyone wanted to work. If you wanted to work all you had to do was ask and you would be working. There just seemed to be no shortage of work. A large part of this was some receiving companies would hold a driver up on his delivery for hours and hours just to do one load while other loads also had to be delivered. Companies like E.V. Logistics in Langley could and would keep a driver there on one delivery for upwards of 5 to 6 hours to deliver one trailer load of goods. Other companies like Brewer’s Distributors would also do the same. What really hurt is when one driver was scheduled to deliver 2 or 3 loads in a shift to Brewer’s and he was running behind because the receiver was slow. If the appointment time was missed H & R was responsible to rebook the appointment, even if they had been advised the delivering driver was doing all the loads. For a time things were really a gong show, but it was a good gong right to my paycheque working 70 hours in a week with plenty of over time.

I was for a time happy. I made new friends in the driving industry and I was willing to bend over backwards for H & R doing anything they asked like rescuing a driver who was out of hours at the scale in Hope by getting a ride from a fellow driver and driving the other driver’s truck and load back to the yard for him. Or going up the Coquihalla to rescue a load from a broken down truck. Delivering a load to Kelowna occasionally when the Kelowna City Driver’s were busy or they couldn’t come down to switch a trailer. All in all I was feeling pretty good. More so that I could go home quite consistently. Then the dispatcher I had was being posted overseas with the military and everything changed.

We got a new dispatcher. He was brand new on the job learning the ropes and things were being mandated to be changed. Reduced overtime, set shifts, doubling up of workers on trucks for 2 shifts. It was to say the least a big deflation to my cheque and to my hours. In the first few weeks my hours went from 70 to 60 to 50 to 40 and then for months I was lucky to get 20-35 hours in a week.  At the wage of $19 I was hurting with a family to feed.

The new dispatcher was being helped by another dispatcher who had more experience but his philosophy was he would send out the dispatches of things to do. Once they were done, you were done. So if your shift lasted only 4 hours, you only had 4 hours. That was that unless there was an urgent delivery the night shift dispatchers needed. I jumped into a highway truck one time and they needed a blower out of Calgary to remain in Vancouver for B Train Bulk deliveries of Flour. I was delivering flour to a new location every week. One week would be McDonald’s baking headquarters on Annacis Island. Other times it would be A Cakerie off Lougheed and still other times it would go to Olivieri on Annacis Island. I absolutely loved being back on Trains even if it was but for a few hours. Vedder Transport took over this contract. I never did find out how or why, but the B Trains just stopped coming and I heard through the Grapevine H & R sold the trailer also and lost the contract.

Then an incident happened. Sunripe in Kelowna was going on strike. The strike was affecting the many loads of juice that were scheduled to be outbound from their warehouse and management was the ones loading the trailers and doing all the work. They needed drivers there to cross the lines and so off I went going through the picket lines of the Teamsters. It wasn’t a fun event and many times I had many verbal altercations with the workers who would spew out words like “scab” and “piece of shit” and other profanities. I have to admit it did bother me what they were saying and I gave as good as I got. One day there was a little humor and they had put up a mock railroad crossing sign with the words “Scab Crossing” and even when I talked to them one on one without the crowds for example going for dinner I would see them and they seemed like decent folk, but given the mob mentality, they would back each other up and join in when the time came down for it. It was as if they had transformed from decent folk into people who would join in on a mob beating at the drop of a hat. This was the mentality of the people at the moment and there would be no talking to a mob. One day they pissed me off enough that I was seething. I won’t go on record here about the incident that took place, but needless to say I was recalled immediately from Sun-Rype by senior management at H & R.

Back in my peaceful world I was having trouble. I had operations up coming, I was sick with the flu and I was not in very good spirits. I was having trouble with the dispatcher from H & R who would give me very few hours. Some days I would be lucky to get 4 or 5 hours, so I started suggesting that he place me on part time and let me work elsewhere to earn some money, but no….they would not allow it. So I had a choice. Leave and look for another job to feed my family since they were starving me out of work or stay and make my family suffer also. I chose to leave and since then H & R has always given me a bad reference even though I bent over backwards for them. That was the thanks I got and it was after I left them when my eyes opened to the reality that they were no better off than a lot of other companies who will just use you and take credit when they do good and kick you to the curb if you buck their system.

As always, thanks for reading Travels of a Trucker. If you enjoy reading my stories, please stop by and join me with Google Connect or sign up with email. You can also follow along with me here on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/truckerofbc or look for me on Facebook on my Blog Page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Travels-of-a-Trucker/256861804368734 Drive safe and keep em sunny side up.

If you are a sponsor looking to promote products or have products tested, please send samples to:

Roger Simmons

2130 8th ave

New Westminster, BC V3M2T8

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