No quick fix for supply chain, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer

October 22, 2021

Land Line Staff

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Supply chain issues have hit nearly every industry as of late with a “driver shortage” among the most common narratives tied to the issue.

In an effort to provide some context to the situation, OOIDA President Todd Spencer joined CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield to discuss the matter on Oct. 18.

“It’s just simple math,” Spencer said. “Every year there are over 400,000 new commercial driver’s licenses passed out to people. Most of those people want to drive a truck, but they burn out real quick because it’s a tough life and a lot is expected. The personal sacrifices are great and the economic rewards just aren’t there.”

Turnover and attrition are not a shortage – actually that’s a surplus, Spencer said.

“There are backups and congestion in the ports because of demand and disruptions in supply, but what drivers all across the country tell us is they can’t get loaded and unloaded,” Spencer said. “They have extensive wait times on both ends. If you don’t know when you’ll get loaded or unloaded, you can’t plan your next move. If you want to get cargo delivered you have to get it on the trailer and to the shipper or receiver.”

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., in particular, are further complicated by sheer volume.

“You have more players; you have ports, steamship lines and freight forwarders involved,” Spencer said. “Oftentimes, the people that are going to do the loading or unloading have no direct communication with truckers. Nobody knows who’s on first. There is no level of transparency there. It’s just a mess.”

Asked what can be done to help, Spencer explained the problems drivers have been dealing with for decades.

“The number one issue is truckers need to be assured they can get in and out of loading and unloading facilities in some kind of timely fashion,” Spencer said. “Right now, that’s just a crapshoot for too many. You might be talking about six, eight, 10 or even 12 hours. Sometimes it’s not until the next day. That’s common in trucking because most drivers get paid nothing for their waiting time and there’s no penalty for delaying drivers.”

The unfortunate truth came from Spencer’s closing remark, “it’s one of those things that’s easy to ignore,” he said. LL

 

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