CALIFORNIA - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ruled on December 21 that trucking companies no longer need to provide meal breaks and paid rest for their truckers.
 
The Teamsters Union and the state of California sued the FMCSA soon after, saying federal laws do not supersede California's state labor laws.
 
Federal law dictates that truckers must rest 30 minutes every 14-hour workday. The new ruling would allow those drivers not to be paid during that break.
 
The FMCSA's ruling followed from petitions from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and others. In a statement, FMCSA said it hopes to disincentive the break because of increased crashes between the California-Oregon border caused by an alleged decline in parking. FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez also said paid rest breaks were a drag on the economy.
 
“Safety is FMCSA’s top priority and having uniform rules is a key component to increasing safety for our truck drivers,” said Martinez. “During the public comment period, FMCSA heard directly from drivers, small business owners and industry stakeholders that California’s meal and rest rules not only pose a safety risk, but also lead to a loss in productivity and ultimately hurt American consumers.”
 

ARTICLE

Truck driver shortage could reach crisis levels for wood products

In the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual industry issues report for 2017, driver shortage topped the list of critical issues facing the industry for the first time since 2006.


The ATA said existing federal law stops individual states from enforcing commercial motor vehicle safety laws or regulations preempted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The state and the teamsters countered:
 
“It is well within a state’s rights to establish standards for the welfare of our workers,” said state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Truck drivers, like every other person protected under California’s labor laws across hundreds of different industries, deserve adequate meal and rest breaks.”
 
“We are standing united in opposition to this decision. Highway safety for Teamster members and the public must never be put at risk just so that transportation corporations can eke out a little more profit,” said Jim Hoffa, IBT General President.
 
Trucking is becoming a heated topic again and has a big effect on the wood products industry.
 
In the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual industry issues report for 2017, driver shortage topped the list of critical issues facing the industry for the first time since 2006. The industry was around 51,000 drivers short in 2017 - up from 36,000 in 2016 - and that number is projected to increase to a whopping 174,000 by 2026.
 
As virtually every segment of the economy grows, and online sales continue to soar across many industries, the demand for truck drivers is extreme. Shipping expenses are at an all-time high: it costs more than $1.85 a mile to ship a dry, non-refrigerated good. That's an increase of nearly 40 percent from a year ago, according to data from DAT Solutions.
 
Businesses are compensating by increasing driver wages and getting them home more often.
 
"It's as bad as it's ever been to find drivers," Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Association, told the Washington Post. "Companies are doing everything they can to make drivers happy: increasing pay and getting them home more often, but that means they aren't driving as many miles."
 
Many wood products companies have reported that the shortage of drivers is directly responsible for their own fourth-quarter shortages, according to the Hardwood Distributors Association (HDA). Some are seeing significant impacts on capacity levels due to an inability to efficiently transport materials. 
 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.