President Joe Biden celebrated federal investments within the trucking business throughout a White House occasion on Monday, highlighting strides the administration has made in implementing its “Trucking Action Plan,” which was unveiled late final 12 months.
Standing in entrance of two vans at an occasion on the White House garden, the President referred to truck drivers because the Americans who’re making the financial comeback from Covid-19 potential.
“I want to thank you … (for) keeping America moving, because that’s literally what you’re doing – especially these last two years, helping carry the nation literally on your backs,” Biden mentioned.
“All of you here today are people our economy should be built around, because you all, you all are the people who literally make it run,” Biden advised truckers within the viewers. “That’s not hyperbole. You literally make it run. I have nothing against investment bankers. They could all retire and nothing much would change. Y’all quit? Everything comes to a halt.”
The Trucking Action Plan focuses on “building supply chain resilience through better quality trucking jobs,” White House assistant press secretary Emilie Simons advised reporters Sunday.
It is a tumultuous time for the trucking business. Truckers transfer 72% of the US financial system’s items, per business estimates, however the Covid-19 pandemic noticed a spike in labor shortages for the business, with one trucking affiliation CEO telling CNN final 12 months that the sector was brief 80,000 drivers.
The Biden administration is beneath heavy political stress to unclog provide chain shortages and knock down hovering inflation. But regardless of continued inflationary pressures, the President on Monday largely sought to spotlight current financial victories, corresponding to Friday’s information that the unemployment price hit a brand new pandemic low.
Monday’s occasion was supposed to function outreach to a section of working-class Americans for a President who has typically styled himself as an ally to blue-collar staff, and it follows headlines earlier this 12 months of trucker protests over Covid-19 restrictions.
The Trucking Action Plan launched final 12 months elevated federal funding to expedite issuance of business driver’s licenses, expanded outreach efforts to veterans by way of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and established a joint initiative between the Departments of Labor and Transportation to develop recruitment and advocate for workers.
Maria Rodriguez, a trucking apprentice, former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Veterans Trucking Task Force, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg all spoke on the White House occasion on Monday.
Rodriguez mentioned that after dropping her job in March 2020, she sought a profession change to help her household and supply stability. Now working as a trucking apprentice, she mentioned that “as an essential part of the supply chain, I feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”
“I want to thank President Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris for leading the 90-day trucking apprenticeship program,” Rodriguez mentioned. “This program has built clear paths to careers in truck driving that are fulfilling and offer endless opportunities. I feel like I leapt into this new career, and I’m so happy that I did. I hope that I can be an inspiration to other women who are thinking of joining the industry.”
In a truth sheet launched Sunday night, the White House mentioned that since Biden took workplace, the administration had “taken on the supply chain disruptions and price increases resulting from the decades-long lack of investment in the nation’s goods movement supply chain.”
Still, the robust working situations for long-haul truck drivers particularly make it extremely tough to retain drivers, who typically depart for different corporations or give up the business altogether.
The common annualized turnover price of long-haul drivers at bigger corporations was 96% in the course of the third quarter of final 12 months, in accordance with the American Trucking Associations, a commerce group. At smaller carriers, the turnover price was 73%.
The job sometimes consists of multiday journeys throughout which the motive force spends nights away from dwelling and sleeps within the cab of the truck. The median pay is $47,130 per 12 months, which is increased than the median for all occupations, in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But long-haul truck drivers are sometimes paid on a per-mile foundation, somewhat than per hour labored, and are additionally exempt from receiving additional time pay beneath the Fair Labor Standards Act. That means drivers are solely incomes cash when they’re actively driving and never when they’re ready for cargo to be prepared for pickup, or whereas the truck is loaded or unloaded, for instance.
Plus, it’s a harmful job. Compared with the common employee, motorcar operators are 10 instances extra prone to be killed on the job and almost 9 instances extra prone to be injured on the job, in accordance with a report from the Department of Commerce referencing 2015 knowledge.
This story has been up to date with remarks from Monday’s occasion on the White House.