I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End

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    • #452449
      sonofspy777
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 6,294

      Let’s start with understanding some things about ports. Outside of dedicated port trucking companies, most trucking companies won’t touch shipping containers. There is a reason for that.

      Think of going to the port as going to WalMart on Black Friday, but imagine only ONE cashier for thousands of customers. Think about the lines. Except at a port, there are at least THREE lines to get a container in or out. The first line is the ‘in’ gate, where hundreds of trucks daily have to pass through 5–10 available gates. The second line is waiting to pick up your container. The third line is for waiting to get out. For each of these lines the wait time is a minimum of an hour, and I’ve waited up to 8 hours in the first line just to get into the port. Some ports are worse than others, but excessive wait times are not uncommon. It’s a rare day when a driver gets in and out in under two hours. By ‘rare day’, I mean maybe a handful of times a year. Ports don’t even begin to have enough workers to keep the ports fluid, and it doesn’t matter where you are, coastal or inland port, union or non-union port, it’s the same everywhere.

      Furthermore, I’m fortunate enough to be a Teamster — a union driver — an employee paid by the hour. Most port drivers are ‘independent contractors’, leased onto a carrier who is paying them by the load. Whether their load takes two hours, fourteen hours, or three days to complete, they get paid the same, and they have to pay 90% of their truck operating expenses (the carrier might pay the other 10%, but usually less.) The rates paid to non-union drivers for shipping container transport are usually extremely low. In a majority of cases, these drivers don’t come close to my union wages. They pay for all their own repairs and fuel, and all truck related expenses. I honestly don’t understand how many of them can even afford to show up for work. There’s no guarantee of ANY wage (not even minimum wage), and in many cases, these drivers make far below minimum wage. In some cases they work 70 hour weeks and still end up owing money to their carrier.

      So when the coastal ports started getting clogged up last spring due to the impacts of COVID on business everywhere, drivers started refusing to show up. Congestion got so bad that instead of being able to do three loads a day, they could only do one. They took a 2/3 pay cut and most of these drivers were working 12 hours a day or more. While carriers were charging increased pandemic shipping rates, none of those rate increases went to the driver wages. Many drivers simply quit. However, while the pickup rate for containers severely decreased, they were still being offloaded from the boats. And it’s only gotten worse.

      https://medium.com/@ryan79z28/im-a-twenty-year-truck-driver-i-will-tell-you-why-america-s-shipping-crisis-will-not-end-bbe0ebac6a91

      Recommended!

      “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
      ~Samuel Clemens

    • #452451
      GZeusH
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,746

      capitalism needs to squeeze more blood out of a turnip truck driver?

      Corporate America consists of totalitarian entities laser-focused on short-term greed.

      My pronouns: vuestra merced, monsieur, господин, pana Bogu, πανίσχυρος Δίας

      • #452474
        Voltairine
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 2,310

        As Varoufakis says, Capitalism is dead, over, kaput. Because of how money is printed and distributed in the fínancial system, and financial system has little to nothing to do with real economy, the post-capitalist white collar crime of systemic accounting fraud prevents genuine information flows of supply and demand and price finding. And has prevented long term profitable – or at least synergetic – investment in infra for ages.

        The systemic white collar crime of the centralized book cooking of the corporate state (both in “public” and “private” sectors) focuses on two things: 1) financial fraud in the ponzi game of money printing and 2) stealing everything they can from essential work to white collar criminals of the managerial bureaucracies.

        Aloha!

    • #452454
      Babel 17
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 5,794

      The price and availability of oil determined how insane the wait would be at the depot.

      Lol, a lot of homeowners have huge tanks, and bought oil like they were playing the futures market. Even the owners of the delivery fleet tried to run the trucks below the capacity of what they could carry if they thought the price would drop. Then when word got out of a price hike, oh my, everyone was on the phone trying to get their tanks filled.

      “Buy, buy, buy!”

      And yeah, drivers that get paid by the day are not amused by that nonsense, and when there’s a labor shortage, they have to be sweet talked into delivering fuel until midnight. My brother has had customers who’d call the office saying they’d be outside with flashlights to help in getting the fuel delivered. Price jumps 30 – 50 cents a gallon, and the customers order hundreds of gallons apiece, it gets crazy.

      P.S. It’s anybody’s guess what electronic gadgets will go for by Christmas time and the months after. Chip shortages, manufacturers a while back announcing price hikes, and just the other day an earthquake near a DRAM memory manufacturer resulting in a reminder of how low stockpiles can get.

      https://programadoresbrasil.com.br/en/2021/10/Memories-Makers-Drama-Taiwan-Earthquake-Impacts/

      On the other hand, the markup on the expensive units can be steep, and newer versions can cause the prices of older products to significantly decrease. I’ve no advice, just commenting that once again the markets are volatile. If China decides on a fleet exercise, or our Navy or Air Force has a whoops with them, look out.

      People are still scalping video cards for over MSRP even though they were introduced a year ago. The new Google Pixel phones can be a struggle to buy, and given how daringly low they’re priced, and how well they’ve generally been reviewed (grain of salt on both points there, but that’s how it’s playing out) expect craziness over them through the holidays.

      These are just prominent examples of a vast inventory of items that get shipped overseas to their customers. People have been in a mood to buy gadgets, and those with the cash or credit are doing so.

    • #452459
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 22,626

      Hmmm. I wonder if Shapiro and a few bad propagandists on Fox will start saying Biden is waging a war on Christmas by deliberately refusing to force the dock drivers back to work at gunpoint or something.

      I guarantee you that at least a few million more people will get pissed off at Biden for ruining their god-given right to a “traditional” consumerist Christmas. And at the Democrats in general. Truthfully, the best thing the Republicans can do for themselves is STFU like Biden did in the general election.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #452462
      soryang
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,837

      The ports and the container terminals are massive choke points. Once the so called super efficient “just in time” delivery system fails it has a cascading effect the author described very well. “Just in time” shipping was a way to avoid additional capital investment in infrastructure that the shipping and transport companies didn’t want to pay. So there is zero elasticity in their system to cope with bottlenecks and unforeseen circumstances. I can see why container drivers need to be union and get paid by the hour. Drivers who get paid by the load or per mile, only want to drop and hook their loads. Dead time is lost money. He says the chassis haulers would get in 3 loads a day. That’s a short hauler. OTR Trailer haulers are lucky to do a load a day or three loads in two days. That’s OTR driving. OTR drivers pay per mile has gone up a lot lately. The shipping companies still won’t get enough drivers. If an OTR driver has to consistently dock and wait more than an hour to load or unload, he won’t last long. Drop and hook is the only thing that makes the per mile pay driver viable. The job is brutal but its better than working at the Walmart or McDonalds.

      • #452469
        jbnw
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 7,432

        SPOF – single point of failure. That cascading effect is an example of exactly that – each step in the chain is a SPOF that impacts everything if it fails.

        It’s like Facebook a few weeks ago when it was down for hours – there was one SPOF that failed and made it very hard to get back in and recover.

        • #452508
          soryang
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 1,837

          @jbnw

          I assumed that the “just in time” system was made possible by logistics management software. Being at the bottom end as a driver, and knowing the federal regs on hours of service, I could see some of the effects, but I never worked at the dispatch offices so I never saw the “big picture,” directly. I think most rigs run on electronic logs now for hours of service, and Qualcomm is the big hardware operator. The terminal in the truck is connected to the dispatch office by satellite.

          The big otr transport companies incorporate in right to work states, so they are very difficult to unionize. They also are always trying to get their employee drivers to buy into an “independent contractor” status to shift operational costs onto the driver from the franchising corporation. It’s a bad deal but poorly informed drivers are often tricked into it. When you go to independent status you are relieving the company of capital costs, fuel costs, insurance costs, etc. and taking them on yourself. It’s a bad deal in general.

          • #452512
            jbnw
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 7,432

            of software and tracking systems that (mostly) run smoothly. But of course, now if there’s a delay anywhere in the chain, there’s not much in storage to handle it.

            We see it with cars – now there’s a computer chip shortage, and the car market can’t handle it.

            And of course, even if there are chips, it doesn’t matter if you can’t deliver the chips or the cars!

    • #452464
      Mr. Mickeys Mom
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 6,979

      That’s a very merry up your ass to capitalism… long over-due, also.

      Hell, no... I'm not giving up...

      • #452485
        retired liberal
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 4,634

        Except something and a card for my better half and a little fancier meal that day.

        We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
        The older we get, the less "Life in Prison" is a deterrent.
        Don't forget that the S in IoT stands for Security.
        Beware of geeks bearing GIFs.

      • #452513
        jbnw
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 7,432

        used to give money to the homeless and Salvation Army bellringers during the holiday season rather than gifts. It’d spread the holiday cheer!

    • #452484
      djean111
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 6,995

      Maybe our millennial SOT Buttigieg will have some good ideas on how to fix it.  He is currently visiting ports and handing out Covid grants and shilling for Biden’s pretend legislation.

      America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

      Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.

      "black flag" is an inadvertent mash-up of black ops and false flag. . I think it is accurate, and I will keep it. Thanks to those who pointed it out!

    • #452496
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,989

      The US government is failing at its most basic responsibilities to the American people. Managing the COVID pandemic is one of them, but higher up the list is helping to support working Americans. It just gets worse and worse, every year.

      On a side note, why aren’t the Teamsters attempting to expand membership to these independent contractors? I mean, seems like easy pickings for them…

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

      • #452501
        doh1304
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 1,787

        but I’ve been there (with taxi drivers) and it’s the opposite – the worse things are the harder it is to get them to act for themselves. They hunker down and dismiss any attempt to improve anything.

        • #452527
          closeupready
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 2,989

          As meager as it is, they’ve got an income. The alternative – no income – is really scary, especially when you have dependents. So the idea of striking is, like, “no, absolutely not, I can’t afford to strike.”

          The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

        • #452556
          Voltairine
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 2,310

          Some drivers in some places have succeeded in creating a co-op version of “Uber”. You don’t need an union when you are co-op owner.

          “Hey let’s make an union to beg for more crumbs – and for Mob/corrupt bureaucrats (is there a difference?) to take over!” is not a very good sales speech. “Let’s be our own bosses together!”, better.

          Aloha!

    • #452497
      yourout
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 488
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