Times are changing in trucking – at least depending on who you work for.
A recent contract extension between less-than-truckload carrier YRC Worldwide and thousands of members of the Teamsters union has paved the way for new opportunities.
The extension is for five years but doesn’t go into effect until the current one expires in four months. The company and the union agreed to come together to launch two new programs, each of which is set to run for about two months.
The first program allows road and city drivers with YRC to work 70 hours total over a period of 8 days, making the 34-hour restart available for drivers in this group. The other program allows for employees who don’t have their commercial drivers license to make short-haul deliveries. These deliveries were previously handled by third parties not related to unions. Drivers in this program can earn over $20 per hour.
The program will be based around operations in both Holland and New Penn, which are two of the three U.S.-based regional operating companies YRC runs. Compliance isn’t mandatory, meaning drivers can experiment with this program at their leisure. The 34-hour restart rule is based off a federal mandate, which says drivers must take 34 hours off the road after being on it for 70 hours in an 8-day cycle.
The companies are forbidden from using these programs to fill any CDL roles with non-CDL drivers. But the ability to bring in non-licensed drivers for short-haul work will help fill up many job roles and provide union members with more options in their common regional freight routes.
Both programs will launch about six months ahead of the extension from 2010 which has changed collective bargaining for years. It was ratified in early 2014, and it was done in response to a potential bankruptcy filing that could have crippled the companies involved. The financial burden of wage cuts was also a factor, meaning these new programs could be viewed as a way to safeguard the industry and prevent these things from happening again.
Of course, no program is a true one-size-fits-all solution that could definitively prevent all the problems the trucking industry could face. No matter the size of the company or the membership level of the union, trucking is a volatile industry at times where a number of factors can cause sudden changes.
A memo sees Teamsters’ national freight division’s head Ernie Soehl say the programs were intended to insource work and increase the earning opportunities for the bargaining unit. One poster summarized things by saying you get a bunch of drivers who are currently bringing furniture and appliances to buyers in delivery vehicles, and instead offer them one of these jobs where they can get $20 per hour and benefits.
This strategy could present new economic opportunities and facilitate growth among trucking and its related fields. Trucking’s only constant is change, and these new programs could take things in a more positive direction.