A representative for an independent truck driver association told Fox Business that the Biden administration’s plan to fix the trucker shortage fails to adequately address the key problem of driver retention.
Collin Long, Director of Government Affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), told Fox in an interview that “the biggest problem, as far as driver workforce, is retention,” adding that President Joe Biden’s newly-announced Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce does not do enough address this critical component.
“They’re putting so much emphasis on bringing in more drivers and not enough on what you do once they’re in the field, how you get them to stay behind the wheel,” Long told the outlet. “How do you make the job prosperous for them and safe for them? And a lot of that is what’s missing from the proposal.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Long’s remarks.
The Biden administration on Thursday announced a new plan to boost the number of truckers on American roadways amid a nationwide shortage. It includes $30 million in funding to expedite the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) process, while the Department of Labor (DOL) will steer $8 million to trucking apprenticeship programs.
Biden’s plan does not allocate funding to driver retention schemes but it does call for the launch of a new partnership between the Department of Transportation and the DOL that will host listening sessions with drivers and other trucking industry stakeholders, with the aim of “lifting up employers and best practices that support job quality and driver retention that can be scaled.” The plan also calls for a study into the issue of truck driver pay and unpaid wait time during pick-up and drop-off.
In congressional testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in November, an expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said that holdups at pickup and delivery points were causing a chronic underutilization problem impacting long-haul truck drivers, leading to 40 percent of America’s trucking capacity being “left on the table every day.”
The Biden administration on Thursday held a roundtable with trucking stakeholders to discuss challenges facing the industry, with a readout indicating that participants welcomed the plan to boost the pipeline of drivers, “noting the benefits this offers to driving retention and safety.”
The American Trucking Association says a national shortage of more than 80,000 truckers is worsening shipping bottlenecks, exacerbating supply chain issues, and contributing to a rise in inflation, which reached a 39-year-high of 6.8 percent in November.
Fifteen Republican governors, led by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, started “Operation Open Road” in November, which called on the Biden administration to remove “burdensome” regulations on the trucking industry and to suspend the president’s vaccine mandate for private employers.
Biden’s plan also doesn’t address the vaccine mandate—announced in September as part of an executive order requiring all workers at private businesses with 100 employees or more to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or show a weekly negative test.
A new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration implementing the requirement is currently held up in the courts.
Nick Ciolino contributed to this report.