Driver shortage not the problem, Port of L.A. director says
March 16, 2022
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long disputed the notion of a driver shortage in the trucking industry.
Well, OOIDA is not alone. As part of a Freight Logistics Optimization Works meeting aimed at improving the supply chain, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others that the problem isn’t a lack of truck drivers.
“In Southern California, we don’t have a shortage of truckers,” Seroka said. “We have a shortage of good jobs. More than 660,000 commercial driver’s licenses have been issued in the state of California, and yet of the 9,000 truckers that call on a weekly basis at our port complex we could probably use 3,000 to 5,000 more. So how do we attract, recruit and retain drivers in this port?”
The meeting is part of a White House effort to expedite the movement of goods and lower costs for consumers. The administration announced the launch of the program on Tuesday, March 15, and 18 stakeholders representing trucking, logistics and the ports met later that day.
“These key stakeholders will work together with the administration to develop a proof-of-concept information exchange to ease supply chain congestion, speed up the movement of goods, and ultimately cut costs for American consumers,” the White House said in a news release. “The Department of Transportation will lead this effort, playing the role of an honest broker and convener to bring supply chain stakeholders together to problem solve and overcome coordination challenges.”
Truck driver shortage?
For years, OOIDA has spoken out against claims from the American Trucking Associations that there is a shortage of truck drivers. Instead, the Association points to a driver retention problem caused by low pay and poor working conditions.
Although many members of Congress and the media continue to refer to the problem as a driver shortage, the message has shifted some in recent months. Sorak’s comments serve as another indication that people in the industry are beginning to acknowledge that the problem has to do with turnover rather than finding people willing to give trucking a try.
Improving the job
The White House announced in December an initiative to make trucking a desirable long-term career. At that time, the administration said it would be releasing its Trucking Action Plan in 90 days, which was reached this week.
“Trucking plays a critical role in the U.S. supply chain and economy,” the White House said in December. “America’s truck drivers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of this country. Seventy-two percent of goods in America are shipped by truck, and in most communities, trucks are the only form of delivery. A strong, stable, and safe trucking workforce that offers good-paying jobs to millions of truck drivers is a critical lifeblood of our economy.” LL