AmericanTruckersAtWar

Professional, Polite, Prepared to Kill

An Open Letter to Duane Acklie, Chairman of Crete Carrier Corporation and Tonn Ostergard, President and CEO of Crete Carrier Corporation

Is this cute little puppy the cause of Crete/Shaffer's fuel cost woes?

Is this cute little puppy the cause of Crete/Shaffer's fuel cost woes?

Subject:  Learning Over the Years How to Balance Family and Work in an Industry Not Even Their Own Company Executives Understand

 

By Renee E. Taylor

 

(ATAW/AR)  To you, my husband is a truck number, just a large, blue or red metal object that mysteriously gets your freight from point A to point B.  One of thousands of tiny dots that appear on your computer screen as you sit in your air conditioned office which you leave each night to return to your wife, children and pets.  A large, blue or red metal object that dispatchers and planners seen as an inanimate object to manipulate and control.  Problems not solved at the end of “nine to five” are left unresolved – the inanimate object left sitting in a shipper’s parking lot or truck stop for hours and sometimes days, waiting for someone to make a decision.

 

As the cost of diesel fuel skyrockets further and further, it is that large, blue or red inanimate object that is the target.  A cold, hard, metal thing that you see as you walk to your Mercedes at the end of a workday, office air conditioner left idling to cool no-one, an object not occupied by someone’s father, mother, wife or son.  Just cold blue or red metal.

 

A truck is not a hunk of steel and fiberglass that magically goes from Dallas to Los Angeles.  It is driven by professional men and women, men like my husband who have been truckers all their adult lives, learning over the years how to balance family and work in an industry not even their own company executives understand.

 On May 3, 2008, my husband received notice that as of April 30, 2008, those truckers with pets would have to pay a $600 pet deposit for a companion they would have to have permanently off their trucks by the following year.  Why? Theoretically, “trucks with pets idle 4% more than trucks without pets.”  Did you pull that number out of a hat or was the rise in the cost of fuel just an excuse to appease Acklie mechanics such as Randy Polack?

 

Randy Polack was named Maintenance Supervisor of the Year in 2007.  As manager for the Lincoln, Nebraska, Acklie tractor shop, Polack stated in the Nebraska Trucker magazine, months before the fuel price spike, his animosity to truckers with pets with his statement regarding professionalism in trucking, “No pets in trucks.”  This statement from a “manager” who completely ignores the fact that it takes eight hours to do a thirty minute oil change in Acklie shops.  Not that this affects Polack and his mechanics, as it is the truck driver who loses income to support his family while waiting and waiting and waiting, while mechanics get paid hourly to “work” on those blue or red inanimate objects.  Is it the cost of fuel, completely disregarding the trucker, without whom you would even have a trucking company, or is the appeasement of hourly mechanics, whose open animosity towards the very trucks that provide them with a job, that led to thousands of puppies being abandoned by those who love them?

 

In an effort to conserve fuel and cut costs to the company, thousands of drivers were forced to part with loving companions, sometimes the only company they had for long, lonely miles away from their families.  In the case of my husband, it was a difficult decision. 

 

You see, Bandit, our eleven year old miniature pinscher, has been his constant companion for as many years, trucking across the country even before we met.  The only time of separation was the eighteen months he served in Iraq as an American civilian truck driver delivering mail to our troops.  Bandit waited patiently for him to come home safely and for their return to the open road.

 

Shaffer gave us the opportunity in the beginning to truck together as a family, since their rider policy allowed us to bring our homeschooled elementary aged son with us.  Unlike so many truckers who spend weeks away from their families, missing homework, ball games and such, my husband was given a golden opportunity to be with his son daily.  We worked together, played together, a very close, loving family. 

 

However, with the new pet ban, our son and I returned to our home in South Arkansas full time.  How to do abandon a family member?  We had, upon my mother’s death from cancer, adopted her beloved miniature dachshund, which I promised I would care for. Every time I look into the little puppy’s eyes, there is my late mother, watching over us.  My husband is now separated not only from his dear friend, Bandit, but from his family now for weeks, sometimes months, on end.  It is increasingly difficult to come home to South Arkansas for the allotted “two days every two weeks”, as freight must be moved first and messages for requested home time are ignored and often lost in Qualcomm cyberspace.  Since having to put Bandit and his family completely off the truck the first of May, our son has seen his dad twice. 

 

How much, really, is Shaffer saving in diesel fuel at the expense of their drivers losing their companions?  Apparently, not enough, as Qualcomm messages arrive weekly from Acklie employees in little air conditioned cubicles telling them they are still idling too much.  Imagine sitting in your truck in Arizona in July – 107 degrees in the shade – getting a message saying you are idling too much.  Decisions are made regarding cutting costs while fuel continues to rise based upon this belief that you have thousands of numbers, thousands of inanimate objects, not husbands and wives, living, breathing people, driving these trucks.  Are your terminals turning the air conditioning off when they leave each evening?  Do you sleep in your car with the windows rolled down each night – battling bugs and other elements, as has been requested of your drivers? 

 

Yes, a trucker can get another job where he would be yet another number on a computer screen, a big hunk of blue, red or green metal to some hourly employee in an air conditioned cubicle.  Yes, one could get out of the industry altogether, opening the door for lesser experienced, lesser paid drivers, if one’s local economy had opportunities for a man to support his family.  Why else would one leave their families for months on end to become a number on a computer screen?

 

Mr. Acklie, Mr. Ostergard and other trucking company executives, these men and women are not truck numbers.  They are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.  They have families, pets and homes, just like you.  Yet to you, they are only numbers idling too much.

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July 13, 2008 - Posted by | economy, trucking | , , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. This is so unfair. It seems as if keeping drivers happy would be the key to keeping them. Experienced drivers who are willing to leave their families for weeks on end are hard to find and if suits like Ostergard and Acklie keep treating their drivers like dirt, than all they will end up with are a bunch of cheap Mexican drivers – or is that their ultimate goal?

    Found the following on Heritage.org:

    This would be a political embarrassment for the United States. Worse, it would mean economic deprivation for those U.S. and Mexican citizens whose jobs rely on exports. Duane Acklie, chairman of the American Trucking Association (ATA), emphasized this point in his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit in July. “ATA supports the North American Free Trade Agreement,” he said, “because it represents increasing trade flows, which translates into more business for trucking companies, and the creation of more jobs and opportunities for our industry.”

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/LatinAmerica/EM766.cfm

    Comment by JavaJena | July 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. Sounds like more and more companies are pushing the good, experienced drivers out of work.
    I realize that fuel is outrageous – I’m seeing my weekly expenses skyrocket because of diesel fuel. But, companies are squeezing the driver because they are an easy scapegoat. Why cut costs on the office level when you can harrass the driver? What do the companies have to lose – a good driver making top pay that they can replace with a trucking school graduate making half the rate? No skin off their noses, they get paid a salary, go home to their families every night and not worry about the driver who’s doing all the work.
    Without the truckers, there wouldn’t BE a trucking company, would there?

    Comment by Capt.Janaway | July 14, 2008 | Reply

  3. I agree with the article above about the pet policy 100 %. I know they are Crete’s trucks but I have had my dog with me for over 8 years (and a million miles). I will not leave him behind next spring as he is my best friend.
    The other thing is this reducing the speed of the trucks from 65 to 62. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Obviously, this was thought up by someone dumber than a box of rocks that has never set foot in a big rig. Number one, have you ever tried to go up a hill with 40k # in the box? If you don’t hit the bottom of the hill at 65 you have to down shift so many times that by the time you reach the top you are going 20-25 miles per hour which makes you a road hazard. This also makes your engine half as fuel efficent as it could be. Number 2, All of a sudden you can’t pass anyone and you are at risk of getting rear ended by the 4 wheelers that are doing the speed limit. The savings that this measure suspose to accomplish is a pipe dream that someone thought up.

    Comment by John M. Owens | July 23, 2008 | Reply

  4. Please Acklie Exec’s get your head out…this great company is faltering due to your poorly based decisions towards your
    drivers. Drivers are throwing their hands up in disguist as are customers…how can you possibly ignore these two facts.
    If anyone at the company level would listen we wouldn’t be making posting’s in this kind of forum…I hope it isn’t already too late for Acklie.

    Comment by Larry Vickers | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  5. Larry,
    They have — we got word a few weeks ago that existing pets would be grandfathered in, however no new drivers would be allowed pets.
    This is good news and shows that the folks at Crete/Shaffer have listened to their drivers!

    Comment by rtaylor83305 | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. GREAT Letter!! I got mine grandfathered in also.

    Comment by David | September 20, 2008 | Reply

  7. My husband drives for Crete and is also throwing his hands up in frustration with low and no miles. He also has a family to support and bills to pay. In my opinion Crete doesn’t think about that side of their drivers. Those who dispatch and office workers and mechanics all get a set pay check each week but the drivers don’t. Crete needs to get back to thinking about their drivers, they claim to be so proud of, and realize how much they are hurting not only the drivers but their families also.

    Comment by Donna | September 25, 2008 | Reply

  8. I drove for Crete for about two years and had to take a personal leave because my wife got ill. Now that she’s better, and I want to return, they won’t let me bring my dog with me. Those clowns in Lincoln can keep their job and give it to someone else. I was never late and always had a smile and professional attitude. I’ll find a new company where the pooch can ride with me and I don’t have to drive slow. If I cant find that, well…then it’s time to re-invent my life and look for other choices. Going nuts in a slow truck with no company is NOT my idea of a quality life.

    Comment by Chris | October 7, 2008 | Reply

  9. I work for crete,I’am at the top of the pay scale,I see a lot of very short runs that are daily run’s,like 200-400 miles and when I ask for a national run,I’am told sorry theres no freight,I’am offered one load when I mt out/I’ve talk to drivers who make less per mile and they have no problem runing long runs like 1000 plus miles back to back,I see they are now runing a driver solution,the cheaper driver gets to run national and the high pay driver gets to run less or set,also I sat about 4 days in PA and was told there was no freight,but I found a driver that had just been with the company 4 months who just delv a few hours ago and had a load out,while I was still setting there,I’ve been with the company going on 6 years,never ask for a layover,but I did because of the hardship It put on my wife and kids back home,was told no we dont pay any layover due to lack of freight,I told them,Its due to runing the drivers who make less than me the loads,which let me set those 4 days,this company does’t care about its dedicated drivers that have put in their time and effort,further more when I need home they don’t care if I get home,I live near San Antonio,tx,they can never get me there,always end up in dallas,tx and set there with sorry theres nothing to get you home,just go home from here and let us know when you are ready to come out,they decided this last time ,that I was to go home in sept 08 when I ended in dallas,tx,there was noting to get me home,so dispatch told me to call my term out of phoenix,az for an ok to go home from dallas to my home near San Antonio,tx,was told that I would have to pay $140.00 for the fuel if I went home with the truck,I ended up renting a car to go home,when it was all done it ended costing me $300.00 to go home and come back to this truck at dallas term/I ask why are they treating me and my fellow drivers who have proven themselves like dirt/sign unhappy driver

    Comment by mike | November 11, 2008 | Reply

  10. NEWSFLASH DRIVERS, CCC DID “NOT” LISTEN TO THERE DRIVERS, THERE TURNOVER RATE SOARED, (OH FYT IT NEVER WAS 30% AS THEY CLAIMED…MORE LIKE 130%) THESE ARE PUBLIC RECORDS, THEY CHANGED IT BECAUSE 1/2 THERE DRIVERS WERE QUITTING, THE ONES WHO DIDNT QUIT IMMEDIATELY WERE WAITING FOR THERE VACATION PAY, ANOHTER PUBLIC RECORD IS THERE ACCIDENTS, BECAUSE OF THE *FACT* THERE GIVING NEWBIES THE MILES (IT AINT NO SECRET) SO MANY DRIVERS HAVE QUIT THAT THERE ACCIDENTS HAVE SOARED THROUGH THE ROOF WITH THE NEW INEXPERIENCED DRIVERS, ITS ACTUALLY FUNNY AND YA WONDER WHOSE RUNNING THE SHOW, THE COST OF NEW HIRES…WITH THE TRAVEL TO GET THEM TO A TERMINAL..THE D.O.T. PHYSICALS THE UA’S THE MOTELS ECT IS STAGGERING THEN THEY END UP HAVING A WRECK, YEAH IN THE LONG RUN IT MAY BE COST EFFECTIVE (THE VERY LONG RUN) BUT WITH THE LAWSUITS,,THE DAMAGE TO EQUIPMENT AND THERE REPUTATIION AS ANY LONG TERM CRETE DRIVER KNOWS IS A JOKE, ITS EMBARRASSING TO WORK AT CRETE. HELL ALOT OF PEOPLE EVEN QUIT IN SUPPORT OF THE PET OWNERS WHO DONT EVEN HAVE PETS, THEY GRANDFATHERED IT IN BECAUSE THEY DIDNT THINK IT THROUGH AND THIS ISNT ANYTHING NEW, HELL BEFORE I QUIT (I DIDNT HAVE A PET) WHEN THEY LOWERED MY SPEED, THE BLACK SMOKE THAT CAME OUT TRYING TO GET UP A HILL WAS SCARY, 55MPH WAS TO SLOW FOR 10TH AND TO FAST FOR 9TH GEAR. I MEAN THINK ABOUT IT, THIS IS THE MOST DRIVER UNFREINDLY COMPANY I HAD EVER WORKED FOR . A 300 WATT INVERTER? I WONDER IT KERRY KERL HAS EVER BEEN IN A TRUCK FOR MTHS W/A 300 WATT INVERTER. I WORK FOR JB HUNT NOW WHO MADE A RECORD PROFIT COMPARED TO LAST YEAR (10 MILLION DOLLARS) ITS ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE, THERE SALES PEOPLE ARE A JOKE, THEY NEED TO STOP RECRUITING DRIVERS AND START RECRUITING SALES PEOPLE FROM AVERITT. CHECK IT OUT, YOU’LL NEVER SEE AN AVERITT TRUCK SITTING FOR DAYS, CRETE IS SICK LIKE A CANCER, THEY ARE TRYING TO FIX IT WIOTH A BANDAID, WHEN THE REALITY IS, IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED FROM THE INSIDE. ITS SAD. IT *USED* TO BE A GOOD COMPANY, I WORKED THERE 10YRS,AND FOLKS WHO LEAVE AND HAVE A PET, HAVE YOUR TRUCK DETAILED AND TAKE PICTURES ABD FIGHT THEM IN COURT BECAUSE BE WARNED, THEY HAVE NO INTENTIONS OF RETURNING YOUR $600. SADLY CRETE IS FIXING THERE COMPANY WITH YOUR WALLET. IVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER IN MY CARREER SINCE I LEFT CRETE AND TALKING TO YOU GUYS ON THE CB,,,YOUR INCOMES ARE A JOKE COMPARED TO AVERITT AND JB HUNT, SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT JB BUT I KNOW ONE THING, I HAVE NEVER BEEN TALKED DOWN TO BY DISPATCH LIKE CRETES DISPATCHERS. GOOD LUCK

    Comment by BOB | November 15, 2008 | Reply

  11. WELL IM ON MY 3RD RESTART IN 5 DAYS, JUST TALKED TO A NEW HIRE ..HE’S ON A 1300MI TRIP W/A PREPLAN, I ASK IF HE WAS GOING HOME CUZ OF THE PREPLAN HE SAID NO, SO WHILE NEW HIRE GETS 2600MI IN 5 DAYS,,VETRAN BOY HERE IS SITTING ON A 400MI TRIP FOR 4 DAYS. LIKE THE REST OF YOU,,AFTER VACATION PAY IM GONE, THEY THINK WERE STUPID AND I RESENT THAT. I LOOKED UP THE TOP 10 TRUCKING COMPANIES TO WORK FOR …CRETE IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. I DO KNOW IM FREEZING AND THE CRETE DRIVER NEXT TO ME IS SITTING AT THE STEERING WHEEL WEARING A WINTER CAP AND HIS JACKET, LIKE ME AFRAID TO IDLE…WELL AS THERE ACCIDENT RATE SOARS AND THERE GOOD DRIVERS LEAVE..I CAN SAY..”I REMEMBER WHEN” HELL THERES A GUY BEEN HERE 18YRS,,HE JUST GAVE HIS 2WKS NOTICE, HE SAID CRETE WAS LIKE WHATEVER,,,SURE,,HERE COMES ANOTHER FRESH OUTTA SCHOOL DRIVER,,,WORKS FOR CHEAP,,AND HOPEFULLY DOESNT CRASH THERE DRIVER UNFREINDLY TRUCKS,

    Comment by marie | November 16, 2008 | Reply

  12. My husband is also a Crete Driver, and lately all he is pretty much doing is sitting.He asked his team leader several times what is going on over the qualcomm and he won’t answer.He is at .45 cents a mile now.He is old school he runs all he can legally, he has also worked the holidays and does not ask to go home often, not even once a month.He has no accidents or tickets.He is a solo driver and has recently gotten 600-2000 miles a week lately. How can a driver pay his bills on that? I would hope that Crete would keep there good drivers happy.What happen to the their are no short cuts and honesty and intregrity of this Company stated on their Web Site.If their Drivers are making good money so is the Company in this case Crete.

    Comment by Sheri | November 27, 2008 | Reply

  13. Some miles are good & some are pure crap. I picked up a load in eastern KY and went to Fontana, CA. Then picked up one for MO. I took one from MO to Dallas, all in about 10 days. Yes I do sit and in fact I’m sitting right now in Dallas. I pickup Monday after delivering Saturday morning. Some weeks are slow, maybe 1800 mi & some are pretty good-3200. I’ve been with CCC for 3.5 yrs and my driving career started in the mid 80’s, so slow trucks aren’t that big of a deal to me. I also have a dog. Yes I paid the $600 but I know of a lot of companies who have a pet fee up to $1000, with no refunds. I don’t expect to get the $600 back, but I think it’s worth it to have my friend here with me. I had the pet way before I had the job. But now I’ve found out that since I do have a pet they will not give me a new truck. A chain smoking cigar smoker can get one but not someone who has a pet. My truck has over 565,000 mi and things are starting to happen. A couple of weeks ago they bought a $3200 turbo. I don’t think I’ve ever been talked down to, but then again, they can’t hear me over the qc when I cuss them.

    So, where is that better job? I want to be home weekends, make $50k-$60k and bring my 4 legged friend and leave truck at terminal. They’re hard to find and until the economy picks up, I guess I’d better bite my lip.

    Comment by Nosey | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  14. Well Crete is gonna make it another wonderful christmas for alot of their senior drivers. While all of the lower paid drivers are getting plenty of miles the senior drivers at Crete are having to sit down more than they drive! My husband has been with Crete close to 6 years now and is getting ready to find something else for work. How is a driver supposed to feed, cloth, put a roof over his/her families head when they can only get maybe 1400 miles a week? I thought Crete was proud to have their senior drivers, but it seems like they are using them to attract new drivers they can pay much less. The newbies are running hard while the experienced drivers are having to sit and wait all the time. Crete is no Santa Clause he is the GRINCH.

    Comment by Donna | December 18, 2008 | Reply


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