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Travels of a Trucker Hard Road to Live By

December 27, 2011

Truck drivers are a unique breed. We work long hours and we work long hours without overtime and away from our families. Take for example anyone of my readers who does not drive a truck and makes an hourly wage. Generally after 8 hours any hourly wage employee will make time and a half. This would be (8 hours of regular wage + the 3 hours of Overtime). Then consider you work for an additional 3 hours and get double pay!! How sweet is this! Now let’s put this little scenario to a hypothesis.

Imagine even earning a wage of $10 and working for 8 hours. You would have made $80. Then the boss says I need you to work an additional 3 hours of overtime. So now your wage is increased to $15 for 3 more hours bringing your total earnings to $45+$80 =$125. Then the boss says someone didn’t show up for a shift I need you to stay for another 3 hours at Double time. So now you make $20 an hour x 3 hours for a grand total of $60 + 125=$185. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? And pretty far fletched as most employers wouldn’t ask you to work 14 hour days! Well in trucking this is the way of life and the wage I just showed you is a wage that a lot of undercutting employers pay their employees. Imagine not only having to do this 1x once in a while, imagine having to do this on a daily basis for at least 5 days a week before you might see a day off or have to take your 24 hour period of rest before your 70th hour. (oh did I forget to mention that the current rules force drivers to either work 70 hours in any 7 day period or 120 hours in a 14 day period which is usually 5 or 6 days of the 7 before you get a day off? Imagine a truck driver almost doubling a normal 9 to 5 workers number of hours and it doesn’t stop there. What I have just posted is what is marked legally. Imagine now having to get loaded and unloaded at each end. It’s of course unpaid. Then there are the fuel stops, getting pulled in by the scales, breakdowns, tire blowouts and any other number of factors which one “overlooks” in order to make their daily wage somewhat agreeable.

Now by far this is not a story of myth, this is the reality of trucking. This is how low the wages ridiculously are with a lot of companies turning a blind eye and utilizing cheap labor. Imagine now that out of this money you would also have to eat to survive and if you do not have a refrigerator in your truck you can assuredly be spending money at the Truck Stop restaurants which are not cheap. If you have ever road tripped even in a car you will understand what I mean. So that $185 you are earning for the day is now reduced by that $15 meal + tip you just gave (and this is only calculating one meal a day). Then further reduced another $9 for that pack of cigarettes you bought. Now your daily earning is only $161. Then let’s not forget your need for coffee, snacks and a soft drink or two on the road. So let’s assume a further $10 is deducted at the low end for goodies and treats on your trip. Now your daily wage is down to $151. So let’s do the math again shall we. $151 x 5 (if you are being paid for the 5 days to drive) $755 X 2 =$1510-taxes of about 30% gives a net total of $1057 +/- a little amount. Essentially what we have is that as a truck driver how can you afford to feed a family.

In my area which is called the G.V.R.D. the average rental of a house is roughly $1600 to $2500. At the wage you earned your rent would eat most of your income. You would have $400 left over. Then there is child care expenses, food and clothing, entertainment, car payments, car insurance, utilities, credit card bills and RRSP payments to make and so on. The bottom line is companies out there are offering these types of wages and drivers are snatching them up. Why? because a lot of companies are now making it harder to find a decent job with the onslaught of so many people who are willing to hire at cheap labor and at cheap freight costs that they undercut a lot of companies. This makes it harder to find a decent paying company as those decent paying companies continuously find themselves losing customers to lower priced competitors. Is it any wonder why new drivers are hard to find? Is it any wonder why so many drivers jump ship and switch companies often? Gone are the days when trucking seemed like an honorable profession or a profession which many could rely on for a decent living. Now with the rising costs of living and inflation, trucking wages have remained the same and the cost of living has gone up. Imagine just 7 or 8 years ago a house was almost affordable being in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Well that same house now (in my area) is $500,000 to $700,000!!!

I don’t know about you, but I think in my opinion it is time truckers worked together (which I probably won’t see  in my lifetime) to bring about change to the transportation industry. What is needed is an hourly wage that is clear and concise. Not some postal code to postal code route or quickest route by the mile calculation which calculates by GPS with no regards to construction, slowdowns, accidents, road washouts, detours or incremental weather. When all is considered just imagine how the Port Mann would bring your wage to a grinding halt for over an hour in rush hour traffic 2x on a daily basis if you were doing Sicamous switches Monday to Friday. I am sure you would be pretty pissed off also.

So perhaps next time you see that truck on the road, just consider that if he is driving up your ass (your bumper) when your doing a Sunday drive to the in-laws without a care in the world he is trying to survive and feed his family. My advice, when you see a pullout just use it and let him pass and continue on your merry way. Thanks for reading Travels of a Trucker. If you like what you read, please follow along by email. You can also follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/truckerofbc or you can follow me on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Travels-of-a-Trucker/256861804368734?ref=ts

If you are a sponsor looking to have a product promoted or tested, please send me an email to rogerdsims2002@yahoo.ca

Thanks for reading

Trucker

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