How much should truckers make? Is it enough? How much is too much?
April 9, 2015
April 9, 2015
A recent posting of the Sunshine List of Ontario employees that showed over half of Toronto police employees making more than $100,000 per year in 2014 has raised some eyebrows. One constable raked in more than $244,000. The thing is that Toronto cops can book overtime duty when working for contractors or the city outside of their regular shift. These are cushy assignments where a cop stands around a construction site sipping coffee watching potholes being filled, or hangs around the craft wagon during a film shoot or whatever.
Toronto cops are the highest paid in the nation, and an argument could be made that these high salaries keep the men in blue on the straight and narrow, and prevent them from getting involved in “illegal” activities to supplement their income. This argument falls flat when you consider the allegations against some executive members of the OPP police association, all of whom made well over $100K and who, after a raid of their offices in Barrie, Ont., allegedly were playing fast and loose with their association’s funds.
Higher incomes do not reflect ethical behavior. Consider the case of disgraced former Conservative senator Pamela Wallin. The woman was sitting on the boards of four corporations and I assume banking some healthy checks from them, at the same time as she was Chancellor of the University of Guelph, as well as a sitting senator. Still, it is alleged, she or her assistant were bilking the Canadian taxpayer for tens of thousands of dollars by billing for senate expenses while attending to her other business interests.
It seems too much is not enough, and I won’t even get into the Mike Duffy show that is currently being played out in a court in Ottawa. I mean he’s got this little piss-ass cottage in PEI that he’s hardly ever seen, and a fairly modest dwelling in Ottawa, and he still has to accept a $90,000 check from Stephen Harper’s assistant to cover his improprieties. I mean, what do these people do with their money, spend it on expensive recreational drugs, take jet flights to the Riviera, buy Picassos from art dealers?
Don’t get me started on these senators. Apparently there are 40 or more of them under investigation and they are not afraid to nickel and dime the public for every little paper clip, and who don’t like the camembert cheese served on airlines. (Who gets camembert on airlines? A bag of peanuts is all I’ve ever been offered). This is a house filled to the rafters with liberal and conservative sycophants, yes-men and women, patsies, party hacks and gold diggers who, like Duffy and Wallin, apparently think they are entitled to a free lunch off the backs of hard-working Canadians. I suspect the Greek philosopher Diogenes would have a tough time finding an honest senator.
And what happened to Harper-the-reformer, who was going to change this cabal of over-priveledged lords and ladies? Nothing, is the answer–he continues to stack the chamber, like the PMs before him, with his buddies and ideological faithful. I heard one rumour that the members of the rock band RUSH were being considered for senatorships!!! But meaningful change to this dysfunctional body is not even on the horizon. The day the senate is abolished can not come soon enough, in my opinion.
But getting back to truck drivers, I’ve known a couple of company drivers (unionized, albeit) who made more than $100,000. One fellow used to camp in his van in the parking lot and take any extra run that would come up. Another company I worked at had the top seniority man pulling in better than $100 K as he booked any overtime he could, often working seven days a week.
Both of these previous employers, I suspect, did not like the idea of a truck driver pulling in better than $100K, no matter how hard they worked, and both of them got out of the transport business, opting for a third-party carrier in one case, and in the other, offering trucks and runs to drivers and getting rid of company drivers that way.
Still I think it’s rare to see a company driver making anywhere close to $100,000. I drive for a top-echelon employer and I made $66,000 last year working 45 hours per week. I could do a little bit better if I liked to work overtime, but I don’t, leaving that for the keeners who are plentiful at my company.
But this topic keeps coming up. How much is a decent wage for a truck driver? Clue: It’s more than $18/hr, but of course that depends on where you live and what you do. Living expenses are higher in Vancouver or Toronto and truckers’ wager usually reflect that. $25 would be a good base rate to start, but I suspect most transport companies aren’t quite there. I think even the ones that are touted as the best in the industry seem to come up short in this regard.
Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.
With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude. All posts by Harry Rudolfs