The forces at work on detention pay
Todd Dills | August 06, 2012
Detention time at shippers and receivers has dominated my discussions with owner-operators about the day-to-day difficulties of the trucking business since the day I started writing in the pages of Overdrive in 2006. Then as now, the constraints of the 14-hour driving window have made long wait times ever more untenable for operators profitability. Good thing is, as evidenced by many carriers leased-owner-operator pay packages today, that same constraining 14-hour window has made the argument for charging shippers and receivers for long wait times easier to make.
Further, some owner-operators, such as small fleet owner Thomas Blake, believe the use of EOBRs for hours/vehicle tracking make it even easier to argue for detention pay, while others see the trucking industrys exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act and the predominate practice of paying per mile as the biggest barrier to achieving full compensation for operators time on-duty. As FMCSA says it continues to conduct research into the problem, all the while it claims lack of authority to regulate shippers and receivers as primary in its inability to do much to address it.
Cracks me up! says owner-operator Jeff Clark. They seem to find the authority for the things they want to do . If we werent constantly churning drivers, market forces would demand [detention compensation].
If youve missed our report this month on the state of compensation for detention, the No. 3 named challenge to owner-operator businesses today, find a portion of it here.
And heres what sources for the story had to say otherwise:
It varies from customer to customer for me. We have two customers that I refuse to service because of slow unloads and no detention.
And yes, I absolutely believe mandatory detention [should be law].
Landstars Joe Beacom
Landstar and its agents place great effort into pursuing detention pay and compensating its BCOs for detention time.
Primes Don Lacy
Every second counts is a project name applied to our continuing efforts to reduce waiting time. Prime has long been a strong proponent of billing shippers and receivers when they waste our operators time. Obtaining timely approval by the customer is the biggest challenge.
Regarding his work as a company fuel hauler based in Florida, Smith says, I personally get compensated somewhat for detention time.
Detention time however is a major problem for OTR drivers. Not only do they not get paid ( many times) for the hours wasted at loading docks, but the time waiting eats up their clock as well as puts pressure on them for the next load. Since drivers get paid by the mile, waiting at docks is analogous to someone with a nine-to-five being forced to take a few hours a day off without pay, then expected to make up the work they lost. Many times this cuts into their mandated break to rest. Talk about safety and truck driver fatigue! I would think the safety groups would be all over this, but why not? All they can focus on is the driver.
If the FMCSA has no authority to impose national rules for detention [on shippers and receivers], then why not put it in the [multiyear transportation reauthorization] just as EOBRs have been?
The forces at work on detention pay. Worth the mention...
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There's something Mr Dills and possibly a lot of other people may not know. A LOT of carriers have been getting detention pay for years, they just dont share it with the drivers.
As far as the FMCSA getting involved, trucks and truckdrivers (whether o/o or fleet driver ) fall under the operating guidelines set forth by the federal government because they are a federally regulated commerce. I have never seen a provision anywhere that states a shipper must get trucks out in a timely manner. Shippers are not federally regulated, unless it's a hazardous substance they are handling/shipping etc. There's no provisions I'm aware of requiring a certain time frame to get trucks loaded/unloaded in a timely manner.
For sure it's a problem that needs to be looked at, but I wouldn't hold my breath on anything coming in the form of help from the fed.
We don't need the feds on this one. We "drivers" have all the power here. Shippers and receivers waste our time because we let them. My guys don't go to grocery warehouses, paper mills or mega shippers for this reason.
We can't allow this to continue. If you go to Mc Donald's and ask for extra BBQ sauce for your chicken nuggets, you got pay for it. I'm not gonna let shippers and receivers abuse my time for free.6 Speed Thanks this.
I just don't think it's a government solution......I'll admit I am NOT affected by it at all.........my industry segment and my situation......detention just is a non-issue. But here it is: if companies just DON'T work for shippers that use their equipment as rolling warehouses..........problem solved. The kicker is the mileage pay model......companies are not highly motivated because their labor cost for the waiting period is negligible. Fix the pay model.......detention will take care of itself. Easy for me to say, right?? LOL
I have always gotten detention as an O/O for the last decade, at least, after the first 2 hrs. Just part of the contract. Granted, don't claim it often, due to the fact most customers I work with don't hold me up for anything. Sometimes I don't even ask for it, yet I see it on settlement. Example, took a load to Conagra in Lakeville, MN. They claim they needed it at 1800. Got there at 1745. I was out of hrs anyway at that point, so figured I would take a 10 there anyway. They could not unload till 0700 next morning. I didn't even worry about detention, as I took a full 10 break. On next settlement, $380 in detention was paid by Conagra. Not bad to get paid to take a 10 hr break! I realize a lot of folks don't have the same situation, but it does beg the question why they don't, and why they haul for those that won't make good. It is a choice. No one is forced to haul anything.
So for many, that's their choice...wait on it, haul it, take the shipper's bs... or not eat, until they can work themselves into something better.
This all should be much easier for anyone, with the freight capacity down across the country. Now is the time to set new standards and quit playing the game the "old way".
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