The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Bosses Make Driving a Misery

Aug 7, 2023

Every day truckers drive and deliver finished products, raw materials and foods, throughout the country. They deliver more than a billion tons per month. Their huge vehicles require them to go to a truck driver training school, to pay for learning how commercial driving is regulated, how to keep logs of their work on a computer, and how to drive trucks that are as long as three or four cars end to end.

More than a million truckers are on the road at any given time, truckers licensed with a CDL, and delivering three quarters of everything we buy. There are many more truckers with a CDL who have given up driving these big rigs. Their main reason is working 80-hour weeks with an average pay of $48,000 a year.

Fifty years ago, truck driving was still a good-paying job with benefits. The Kennedys already were prosecuting the leader of the Teamsters in the 1960s. In the ’70s, the largest carriers were demanding deregulation and laying off drivers. In 1980, after heavy lobbying from the trucking industry, President Reagan deregulated the industry. That forced thousands of trucking companies out of business. Life expectancy for truck drivers began to fall. The majority could no longer get home very often, with a harsh result on families or individuals who turned to drugs and alcohol.

Today, 90% of truck drivers quit in their first year of training, which costs an average of $4,000, money most have to pay back. In their first year, they average half of what they will make when they have experience. When they are on the road, they wait around for hours because companies don’t have enough staff to receive shipments or to prepare what goes out. Truckers today are threatened with cameras looking at their every move and threatened by the talk of self-driving vehicles putting them out of work.

The biggest trucking companies repeatedly tell truck drivers during training that they will be able to live the American Dream, but only if they buy their own trucks. This lie saves the companies the cost and maintenance on big trucks, not to mention the cost of benefits. Such lies are told throughout society, as wages for all blue-collar workers have fallen during the last 40 years.

Imagine you manage to get a loan to buy a big rig, which costs more than many houses. You will have a mortgage, with interest, and you must be insured. You will pay your own gas, tolls, taxes and maintenance. You will have to advertise and negotiate as an individual trying to get good loads. A single accident putting the truck in a shop means no wages. Health insurance and pensions—that’s all at your own cost. The largest trucking carriers will give the best loads to their own drivers.

Truckers and all of us are put at risk by a broken-down system, which allows the bosses to profit while our lives become more and more impoverished.