Truck News


The feds will never pull my strings

Recently, there has been a somewhat subtle discussion going on about a new so-called "truckers' association."This is the group taking life from the dreams of Bill Wellman of the National Truckers Asso...

DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer
DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer

Recently, there has been a somewhat subtle discussion going on about a new so-called “truckers’ association.”

This is the group taking life from the dreams of Bill Wellman of the National Truckers Association and a one-time, federal start-up grant from Industry Canada.

Though I am all for an association that truly has the plight of owner/operators and drivers in mind, I’m skeptical the proposed National Truckers Alliance of Canada (NTAC) would deliver on what it is promising. The last thing this industry needs is to be running to the government demanding they solve our problems for us. Rather, a vast majority of the trucking industry’s problems could be solved by a little personal and corporate accountability.

Though details at this point are sketchy, one has to question how much influence Industry Canada is going to want – considering the fact that they’d be the ones fronting the money.

Take for example, the discussion on trip recorders. What will happen when the government decides that drivers’ rights no longer matter and mandate electronic surveillance for all truckers?

Is the newly formed NTAC going to rubber stamp this legislation on the way out the door, giving the government what it has always craved in this debate – the industry’s blessing?

In the U.S., where there is an effective balance of power, the idea of “black boxes” has already been introduced and was shouted down. This was due in large part to the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association, one of the best associations in the industry.

Here in Canada, we have to be vigilant to watch we don’t provide the government the ammunition they need to harm us.

I’m afraid any association that has the government as partner, observer or even one-time financial contributor, is suspect of being coddled.

It may have a tremendously difficult time enlisting the very individuals they need, due to the lack of trust of the puppeteer – the federal government.

What is needed in this industry is personal and corporate accountability. As an O/O you have your own destiny in your hands. Nobody is forcing you to work as a O/O or for a less than reputable carrier.

If you don’t like what you see your carrier doing – if they micro-manage your business for you, if they claim to have your best interest at heart while consistently cutting rates – it is time you start asking the tough questions. One of which might be, ‘Is it time to move on?’

Granted, carriers and O/Os alike have to live with the same economic realities, and just because you want $5/mile hauling pin-to-pin, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. As O/Os, you owe it to yourself to know your bottom line. If it doesn’t pay, don’t haul it.

As carriers if you want to start ending your driver and owner/operator shortage, then treat them, as you would want to be treated.

The trucking industry needs to stop playing the part of the proletariat. Realize we have made our own beds and either we can lie in them groveling, or we can accept responsibility for our own actions and start to change them for the better.

Please do not misconstrue what I am saying … I am not against the formation and implementation of NTAC. Frankly, I hope it works miracles, because we need them.

I am simply stating running to the government to solve our problems for us is almost always naive and prone to failure. For an association such as NTAC to be a true success it is imperative it is the truckers that call the shots. Not the government, the enforcement regime, the shippers, carriers or any other special interest group. n

– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and a monthly contributor to Truck News.

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