Buttigieg: Truck driving needs to be a better job
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a White House briefing Monday that truck driving needs to be made a better job in order to relieve some of the supply chain problems the nation is facing.
Asked at a briefing about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act whether he has thought about relaxing motor carrier regulations further to allow people 18 to 20 to be truck drivers, Buttigieg noted there is a pilot program in the bill for mentorship and apprenticeship, but that qualifying people as drivers cannot be done at the expense of safety.
Then he added, “We’ve got to just make truck driving a better job. Truck drivers … there’’ a reason the turnover is so high. And the way they’re compensated, they’re often not compensated for their time, which means that their time is wasted freely sometimes when they’re waiting for a load at a port, for example.”
“Truckers have not had the option to work from home on Zoom. They are the absolute backbone of a big part of our supply chain, and we need to respect and, in my view, compensate them better than we have.”
Later in the briefing, a reporter noted that the Teamsters have said that truckers should be unionized, and asked Buttigieg for his views.
“Well, you know, we’re very pro-union,” Buttigieg said. “One of the things we’re proud of is how this legislation will create more good-paying union jobs. And I think truckers who are unionized have more of those protections in terms of their health, in terms of their compensation. And that has a lot of benefits in terms of their effectiveness.
“Look, if you have an industry with 90% turnover — 90% per year turnover at the larger employers of truckers — there’s clearly an issue with the quality of the job. And one tool for improving the quality of that job is union representation.”
Buttigieg also said there’s an issue with what happens when truck drivers get to the gate of a port, for example. “And that largely has to do with compensation structures across the industry that are over and above what the union issue speaks to.”
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