‘Under Pressure’

July 2019

Jami Jones

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As I write this I’m listening to my favorite song, “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. In addition to being a musical work of art, I find inspiration in it. Pretty much every time I sit down to pen this editor’s page, it plays.

Not only the title, but many of the lyrics strike home following a recent House subcommittee hearing titled “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America.”

OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer delivered some heavy-duty truth bombs during the hearing. That didn’t come as a big surprise to those who have dealt with Todd. On a panel of eight witnesses (that’s a lot), Todd duked it out, debunking the rhetoric served up by so-called safety advocates, mega fleet interests and brokers.

In prep for the hearing, I was in on some of the internal discussions at OOIDA about what to highlight. “Highlight,” as a word, hit me. When you start talking about all of the things that negatively affect truckers, that’s no short list. But I don’t have to tell you that. You, dear readers, live it. That hearing could have been eight hours of just Todd telling the subcommittee everything that is screwed up.

Associate Editor Mark Schremmer covered the hearing (that we all here in Land Line were tuned in to). His report starts on Page 18.

A big topic in the hearing and in this issue of the magazine is the push to get under-21 drivers behind the wheel.

As I listened to the hearing, and how mega fleets are just rubbing their grubby hands together looking for some fresh blood, I couldn’t help but think, please no. I’m coming from the perspective of a mother of three ranging in age from 19 to 22. The last thing I want is for them to get sucked into a trucking job at many no-name mega fleets and pulled backward through the ringer.

Kids put up with a lot more crap on the job than most adults. Adults know where the lines are and when to hit the door. The problem in trucking is there are so many lines crossed on a regular basis that too many truckers resemble individuals suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. We don’t need to put that pressure on kids with bright shiny futures and a little bit of optimism.

Emotional plea rant over on that one. You can read the facts starting on Page 22.

Another case in point where drivers are feeling the pressure are the continuing attempts to misclassify employees as independent contractors. It forces the driver to bear the burden for the cost of operations and deprives him or her of employee perks like health insurance. The battle rages on both coasts, but all eyes are on the now-infamous Dynamex case in California. Schremmer takes a deep dive into why that case is so important starting on Page 38.

Tracking along with the lyrics of “Under Pressure,” I hit Page 44 in this issue. It’s an article about company drivers getting blindsided by the tax law changes. It hit, hard. At this point are we hitting the line where “insanity laughs under pressure?”

We may not be insane, but we can still laugh. Those come from the witty words of both Wendy Parker and Dave Sweetman.

Wendy again connects the dots between her beloved stuffed animal Mousie that may have infected an entire Sunday school class with strep to an emotional support peacock. We’re not sure how she manages to make it all make sense, but she does. Page 88 is where the laughs start.

Sweetman steps in to remind us all that trucking isn’t so bad, and it can be fun. He walks us down a bit on memory lane to remind us that there are good times. His Dashboard Confidential appears on Page 90.

It’s not all bad and we really should, again back to the lyrics, give trucking another chance. We just can’t have people sitting on the fence lamenting the bad. I hope I preach to the choir here, but everyone has to be involved. Even if you already are, dare others to change their way and get involved. LL

Jami Jones

Jami Jones has been in journalism since 1991 – focused on the trucking industry since 2000. Whether judging Shell SuperRigs or writing hard-hitting analyses, she covers trucking from lug nuts to legislation – always with the trucker in mind.

Synchrony Financial