Howdy all. I need some advice, and this is my first post. If it's in the wrong place, I trust a mod will move it. I know, it's long, but I wanted to cover all the bases.
I was a school bus driver and have a class B. I'm considering getting a class A, but I'm not really sure I want to spend all the hours behind the wheel with the pressure of a deadline, and I'm not sure I want to be hoofing freight around the city and navigating traffic in a truck / trailer. I have a side gig from when I was a bus driver, and my 25 hours a week on the bus worked great. I would have no problem driving part time, but I'm guessing part time class A jobs don't really exist.
As I ponder this, I've come across a job that intrigues me, but they're hiring as an independent contractor. There's a number of financial implications that I need some advice on before I go talk to them. The company produces electronic equipment in the Pacific Northwest, and it needs to be transported to locations in Wyoming. They have plans to expand business to Texas and Oklahoma. The equipment is built into trailers, and they are looking for someone to deliver these trailers using their non-CDL truck. I assume it's a matter of drive the trailer to Wyoming, drop it, and come back with an empty truck. The job listing says it's "as needed", so I assume it's not full time driving. That works for me.
There's a few questions rolling around in my head, and my only point of reference is a job I had 10 years ago traveling all over the west coast for a company that contracted to large national retailers to set up their new stores. I'll reference that in my questions, but I have no idea how that compares to the trucking industry.
Would I want to be paid by the mile, or the hour? I assume mile, but it's worth asking. Considering that I'd be on a 1099, and responsible for my own taxes, what's a reasonable per mile rate, also considering that I'm driving their truck? At my past job I was paid $8/hr travel time plus 32 cents a mile to drive to the job in my car, usually 750-1000 miles.
Google maps says the trip is 19hrs, 1300 miles, each way. Obviously that's best case, assuming I'm going the speed limit the entire way. Realistically, the route from manufacturing facility to destination goes through some mountain passes where my speed is going to be substantially slower. I can't just assume it's going to be two 10 hour days. I'll be in a hotel at least one night, but should I plan on two? Then two on the return? And one night at the destination? Or is this not something I'd have to worry about at all because federal regulations will determine how far I can go before I'm done for the day? Does it matter that it's a non-CDL truck? My school bus experience didn't cover these issues.
For my past job traveling, one company paid for the hotel, and another company I worked for just gave me a per diem and left it up to me. I prefer the per diem because (at the time) it was considered reimbursement, not wages, and therefore not taxable. I always made money on my per diem. Is that still the best way to go? What's a reasonable amount these days?
How should I account for the possibility of down time away from home? Let's say I'm in Wyoming, and they may have me go to Texas, but they're not sure yet and want me to hang tight for a couple days. With my side gig, I don't mind being gone for a short while, but I'm not keen on the idea of sitting around Dirtville Wyoming doing nothing for days. I don't want to be completely at their mercy because they're only paying me by the mile. In my past job, if we got stuck sitting around because the company we contracted to had screwed up their timeline, they paid us a daily rate as sort of the cost of having us on standby. Wasn't a whole lot, but better than wasting our time completely.
So based on my past experience, there's a lot of stuff I'd be inclined to write into a contract, but I don't know what's relevant to this job, or what I could reasonably expect to be common in an industry I know nothing about. Any input you could give would be helpful, and if there's considerations I missed I'd appreciate you pointing them out to me.
Considerations as an "independent contractor"
1099 is the largest scam in the trucking industry. Basically it companies that run you as an employee, but pay as a contractor so they don't have the same overhead.
Basically any 1099 you see on a job listing is running illegally. Do you really want to chance your license on a company that doesn't care about the law? If that doesn't give pause, think of it this way. If they are willing to ignore tax laws, what other laws do they ignore? Stuff like vehicle maintenance, hours of service, even paying you, the driver.
Companies like this already have their own contract and it protects them and obligates you to pay for the operation of the truck and you can keep whatever money is leftover, if there is any leftover. The company has a LOT more experience with that contract than you do. That contract is often taking advantage of the driver's lack of knowledge. Nothing in their contract assures you of making ANY money. Discount all future plans that the company is talking about. Those are usually just other cheese placed inside another mousetrap for the unsuspecting. In most cases 1099 companies are illegally classifying drivers as independent contractors and avoiding paying the IRS taxes on your work. There are a lot of those companies, which doesn't mean their 1099 is legal, it just means the IRS hasn't gotten to that company yet.
You should not work for a 1099 company unless you are desperate and have experience paying your quarterly income tax & self-employment taxes on your own. Typically, the new 1099 drivers saves no money, pays no quarterly income tax estimates. Just before April 15th they start gathering their paperwork and filling out the 1040 form and discover they owe several to many thousands of dollars in taxes, money they don't have. This is when some drivers decide to try and hide from the IRS. The IRS will find you about 3 years later and you will owe all the money you knew you "forgot" to pay plus interest and penalties. Don't work for 1099 companies. It's like marrying a person that is cheating on their current spouse. Bad news, bad character, bad consequences.
Ever drive through Wyoming in the winter? The wind howls and they’ve never seen a snow plow, much less purchased one. You might want to rethink signing up to pulling some light weight trailer across there. I-80 in the winter ain’t for the faint at heart.
I’ll address the part-time class A part of your question. Yes, there are many part-time class A positions, but most require more than 1 year class A experience. I found that Schneider will hire new CDL grads in part-time positions and that’s what I’m doing now. I mostly work weekends, but I let them know what days I’m available and they give me loads on those days. I just have to work a minimum of 5 days a month, but otherwise can work as much or as little as I want or can fit within available HOS.CowboyTim Thanks this.
A few thoughts for the op.
first to be legal, there has to be a clear understanding from the company that they can’t tell you how to drive, what route and can’t hold it against you if you refuse the work.
second to be legal, there has to be a contract. It isn’t an option legally. This means that they have to hand you a contract, have you review it and then abide by it. It has to spell out a lot of details, not just you make this and paid then.
Third figure your drive time at 47mph, not the speed limit.
Fourth this sounds like a typical crap company.