OOIDA calls for repeal to overtime exemption on ‘Live From Exit 24’

January 13, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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One of the issues the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will try to address in the 117th Congress will be to repeal the truck driver overtime exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act so that drivers are paid for all of the time they spend on duty.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh and members of the Association’s government affairs team discussed this topic and more on the Wednesday, Jan. 13, episode of “Live From Exit 24.”

Listen to ‘Live From Exit 24’

Pugh said repealing the exemption would benefit owner-operators as well as employee drivers.

“For far too long, drivers have had to give their time away for nothing,” Pugh said. “That’s one of the biggest problems in the industry … but that’s become the norm. You only get paid when you’re driving. You don’t get paid when you’re fueling. You don’t get paid for waiting to load or waiting to unload. As a company driver, trucking is the only profession I know where you work 70 hours but you only get paid for maybe 40 of them when you’re driving the truck.

“Those other 30 hours are just free. Who else works like that? It’s crazy.”

Bryce Mongeon, OOIDA’s director of legislative affairs, said some lawmakers are concerned of the broader effects repealing the overtime exemption might have on the trucking industry and the economy.

“From our perspective, it’s just the right thing to do,” Mongeon said. “And that should be enough to act on it.”

Pugh encouraged employee drivers to call their lawmakers and let them know how this exemption affects real people.

“Tell them about the 20 hours you gave up last week waiting to load and never got paid for,” Pugh said. “Give them real-world examples about how you sat at some grocery warehouse or some steel mill, and it took longer to load you than it did to get to the destination and deliver the load.

“I always ask (lawmakers), ‘Would you want to do a job where you make $45,000 or $50,000 a year; you’re away from home 250 days a year; you have to live on the road and eat on the road; you give at least 20 hours away each week; you don’t get to be with your family at night; and you don’t get to see your kids’ baseball and basketball games?’”

Government outlook

OOIDA’s government affairs team said reaching out to lawmakers will be all the more important as the 117th Congress holds nearly even splits in the House and the Senate.

With the Democrats having “razor-thin” majorities in both, Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs, said truck drivers will have a fight on their hands to prevent an increase in the minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers. Last year, the House favored an amendment that would have increased the minimum insurance from $750,000 to $2 million. While that highway bill never saw the light of day, Long said it could be coming again.

“It makes our job that much more difficult to make sure this doesn’t fight its way into a Senate bill or some sort of compromise bill,” Long said. “We anticipated working hard in 2021 on this issue, and now we’re looking at working at a fever pitch throughout the year to prevent this bill from being signed into law.”

OOIDA encourages truck drivers to call their lawmakers to explain to them why the insurance hike isn’t necessary and would be bad for highway safety.

OOIDA talk show

“Live From Exit 24,” is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central every other Wednesday. Listeners can tune in to the show on the Live From Exit 24 website, OOIDA Facebook page or on OOIDA’s YouTube channel. The next episode airs Wednesday, Jan. 27. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.