Demanding Detention Improvement – High Time for Action

08.16.2019 - 10:18 AM Comments: 0

To keep track of the detention time properly has been a problem for the trucking industry since its inception. Although there was hope that the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, will improve this issue, a recent poll by Overdrive found that 42% of participants have seen no perceptible changes, compared to only 2% who reported seeing some improvement. To make matters worse, approximately 40% of participants have said that detention time seems to become longer for them. The result is that drivers’ time remains uncounted for, and therefore uncompensated. 

The Federal Motor and Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has no realistic rigorous method of tracking how drivers are paid. There are some opinions on what the government can do to alleviate the burden of driving detention. For example, the government may introduce the following changes:

  • Regulations: Implementing strict regulations on recording the time spent at shipper/consignee or change the status to off duty
  • Sharing information: Share the detention time spent at shipper/consignee which would offer transparency, increase accountability and provide fair leverage in negotiations
  • Shifting work schedules: Changing the workweek from 70 hours per 8-days to 70 hours per 7-days

These are all potential solutions that can help to solve this problem partially. Perhaps, one of the most vital changes we can implement is to ensure that we pay drivers for all their time on the clock, whether they’re driving, sitting, or just waiting to get loaded or unloaded. However, these matters are out of the FMCSA’s jurisdiction. An implementation of such a policy would rest in the hands of Congress. 

For this to happen, drivers will need to get together, organize, and push for the law. What would this law be? Essentially, drivers have to enforce their representatives in Congress to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in order to include driver’s compensation for detention time. This bill is so outdated that it’s older than World War II. It enables unfair labor practice loopholes, such as exempting drivers from their right to paid overtime. 

Finally, the time for such an amendment is perfect in the trucking industry - with the ELD mandate, there is no reason that employers can claim an inability to monitor how many hours drivers are working. 

Some trucking companies are offering salaries instead of hourly wages to address this issue, while others are using paid detention time as leverage to recruit new drivers. However, the fact speaks for itself - getting paid for detention is considered as a perk and drivers must compete for it. All carriers are aware of the problem but only a few are willing to address this issue. 

The ultimate goal to achieve is overarching accountability of all participants. This way we ensure that all drivers are paid fairly. For that to happen, drivers need to stand up and unite in order to make their voices heard. Starting on June 10th, there will be a 90-day comment period to discuss driver detention. If you want to do your part, it’s time to participate in the comments (search for Docket No. FMCSA-2019-0054.), and then call your representative and tell them you want the Fair Labor Standards Act amended. 

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