Milk and cookies to soothe the imaginary driver shortage

March 5, 2020

Wendy Parker

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First of all, before addressing the “driver shortage,” I’d like to say the Annual Meat Conference is a real thing that includes learning sessions with titles like, “Hot Topics in Meat Retail.”

Now back to regularly scheduled program about milk, cookies and imaginary driver shortages.

I’m immediately drawn to any news about the happiness and well-being of truck drivers, which is why the Supermarket News piece titled, “Keeping truckers happy can be critical to retailers’ supply chain,” caught my eye.

The article contained comments from a talk given by Robert Voltmann, president and CEO of Transportation Intermediaries Association.

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Mr. Voltmann appears to believe there is a driver shortage.

“[I] guarantee if we were paying drivers $100,000 a year, there would never be talk of a driver shortage,” he said.

He got that half right. There isn’t a driver shortage, and increasing pay is preferential to churning along at 100% in some places. It also beats cookies and milk as incentives to return to shippers and receivers.

Did I forget the milk and cookies?

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Right. That’s the confusing part of Voltmann’s speech. After mentioning driver salaries could use a boost, his advice to shippers and receivers was, “Do unto others as they would do unto you.” Only, instead of “doing” something like increasing rates to entice steady coverage of their lanes, Voltmann suggested greeting drivers with a plate of warm cookies and a glass of cold milk.

Don’t feel bad. I was lost, too.

Cookies and milk? How about a clean bathroom and a receiving clerk who doesn’t poke kittens in the eye with a pencil for fun? Even better than that – how about increase rates so drivers can actually make a decent living?

I think we can safely assume Mr. Voltmann was speaking about milk and cookies in a rhetorical sense. His assertion that the driver is the most important part of the supply chain is completely factual. Let’s just hope the shippers and receivers know treating drivers right involves a whole lot more than milk and cookies.

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.