Transportation Workplace Blues

The American Transportation Research Institute just released findings of its 2017 update to the operational cost of Trucking, aptly called, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. Some interesting excerpts:

The analysis found that the average CPM was $1.592 for 2016, up one percent from the costs of $1.575 found in 2015. The total marginal costs for TL was $1.42; for LTL, it was $1.74; and Specialized was $1.83.

As we know, the trucking industry hauls most of freight in the United States, accounting for 66 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage and 73 percent of freight value. A typical truck-tractor in the ATRI sample was reported to have driven 103,945 miles per year, compared to just 25,511 miles for straight trucks.

Respondents reported holding equipment for more miles, but slightly fewer years compared to the previous year’s analysis. This indicates that trucks are being used more intensively each year and are likely wearing out in less time than before

Though new truck models are becoming more fuel efficient, indications of an increase in fuel economy have lagged. For example, the overall fuel economy of the respondent sample held steady at an average of 6.3 MPG

Fuel costs have consistently been the biggest MC line-item expense across most of the years ATRI has conducted this research, and generally account for approximately 30 to 40 percent of a motor carrier’s CPM.24 However, due to the continual steady decline of fuel prices in 2015 and early 2016, fuel’s share of a carrier’s MC was lower than historically experienced and was in fact surpassed by driver wages for the second consecutive year.

Many industry shifts have continued to exert upward pressure on driver pay. In fact, in 2016 both driver wages and benefits grew for the fourth consecutive year, and are now ranked as the biggest cost center for motor carriers in ATRI’s sample for the second consecutive year. Chief among these shifts has been the much-discussed shortage of qualified drivers, a shortage that continued to plague the industry in 2016. Truck insurance costs increased to 7.5 cents per mile.

Most truckload drivers are paid on a per-mile basis while LTL P&D drivers are generally paid by the hour. Survey respondents indicated that average truck driver pay per mile was 52.3 cents in 2016, marking four years of continuous increases. In terms of hourly wages, the 2016 CPM figure translated to $20.91.

 

Regards,

Jim.mahoney@jfm-lawfirm.com

 

ELD Mandate and Compliance 

The ELD compliance requirement will present several operational speedbumps, which will slow velocity and economics of motor carriers, large and small.

How to record yard moves, and is moving a trailer to a dock, dropping it and going bobtail back against the wall count as “on duty, driving,” or “off duty.” It matters because savvy drivers will figure out how not to record “on duty, driving,” because the DOT penalty for driving over hours is 10 hours out-of-service.

ELDs record time in 1 minute increments, incorporate cameras, record hard braking, speeding, and hard cornering.

Who’s to say detention time is on duty, not driving, or personal conveyance usage. Certainly detention time plays a huge role in efficiencies and drivers can be caught using long/lat placements.

Will the FMCSA address the issues of detention or the inability to find parking in a reasonable amount of time? Detention affects driver fatigue, but there’s not much done about it by the Agency. The FMCSA was authorized to do something under MAP 21.

Don’t forget, if you’ve leased a rental truck for less than 30 days, you don’t need an ELD; paper logs will suffice.

Regards,

Jim.Mahoney@jfm-lawfirm.com

Effective July 1, 2017, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, also known as Proposition 206, requires most private and municipal employers to provide paid sick time (PST) to employees (A.R.S. Sec. 5-23-371 et seq.).

Covered employers. Nearly all private employers are covered by the law. A limited exemption is provided for “small businesses,” which are those with annual gross revenues below $500,000 that are not engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for interstate commerce.

Covered employees. Employees include “any person who was or is employed by an employer.” Part-time and temporary workers are also covered by the law and are entitled to accrue and use PST. In calculating the number of employees performing work for a covered employer, all employees performing work during a given week should be counted (including part-time and temporary workers).

The law does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in effect before July 1, 2017. For CBAs entered into or expiring after July 1, 2017, the law’s requirements may be expressly waived by clear and unambiguous language within the agreement.

Accrual of leave. Arizona employees are entitled to a minimum of 1 hour of PST per 30 hours worked.

PST will begin to accrue on July 1, 2017, or the beginning of employment, whichever is later. New hires may be required to wait until 90 days after hire before using accrued PST.

Employers with fewer than 15 employees must permit accrual and use of up to 24 hours of PST per year.

Employers with 15 or more employees must permit accrual and use of up to 40 hours of PST per year.

The Motor Carrier Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) section 13(b)(1) is an exemption from overtime for employees over whom the Secretary of Transportation claims authority whose duties affect the safe operation of motor vehicles in interstate transportation. It does not affect minimum wage obligations of the employing motor carrier. Under the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act these workers are assumed to work 40 hours each work week. Earned but unused PST may be paid or carried over to the following year subject to the 24 or 40 hour limitations noted above.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND THE TRANSPORTATION WORKPLACE

 

Colorado – crystal clear

Employers are allowed to regulate or prohibit the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may also enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees. Simple. No need to drag in DOT issues. Clear-headed.

 

Nevada – oddly sensible, but it’s complicated by reasonable accommodation.

Nevada Revised Statutes 453A.800. Costs of medical use of marijuana is not required to be paid or reimbursed; medical use of marijuana not required to be allowed in workplace; medical needs of employee who engages in medical use of marijuana to be accommodated by employer in certain circumstances.  The provisions of this law do not: 1. Require an insurer, organization for managed care or any person or entity who provides coverage for a medical or health care service to pay for or reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana. 2. Require any employer to allow the medical use of marijuana in the workplace. 3. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 4, require an employer to modify the job or working conditions of a person who engages in the medical use of marijuana that are based upon the reasonable business purposes of the employer but the employer must attempt to make reasonable accommodations for the medical needs of an employee who engages in the medical use of marijuana if the employee holds a valid registry identification card, provided that such reasonable accommodation would not: (a) Pose a threat of harm or danger to persons or property or impose an undue hardship on the employer; or (b) Prohibit the employee from fulfilling any and all of his or her job responsibilities.

 

California – typical psychosis.

A tortured, psychotic path in California now suggests a concern when the employee explains positive test results by mentioning a medical condition that led to the marijuana use.

The employer can still choose not to hire the applicant, or to fire the employee.

But the decision would be the least risky when the employer applies a zero tolerance policy for marijuana use across the board, and when the position is safety-sensitive (like operating machinery or DOT safety related).  The decision is to be made only on the drug test results, and not on the underlying medical condition.

But, if an applicant for an office job fails a drug test due to off-duty medical marijuana treatment for cancer, the employer may decide to hire anyway.

Arizona – hazy – with a chance of general legalization.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) already prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are authorized to use medical marijuana. The principal exception to this prohibition applies if the hiring or retention of a medical marijuana user would cause the employer to lose a monetary or license-related federal benefit, e.g., hampering your FMCSA authority via workers in safety-related functions.

Employers may certainly test employees and applicants for marijuana and other controlled substances, but the AMMA protects authorized medical marijuana users testing positive for marijuana from adverse employment action based solely on the test results.

Arizona employers can discipline an employee with a positive test even if the employee is authorized to use medical marijuana, but only if there is additional objective evidence of possession or impairment during working hours. Where it gets even hazier is the evidence of workplace impairment: a workplace incident reflecting negligence, obvious signs of intoxication: decreased coordination, slurred speech, blood shot eyes, and/or empty bags of Cheetos (jk).

As some of us may know from Cheech and Chong movies, off-duty usage effects can linger into the workday. The fact that an employee’s off-duty use of medical marijuana may be protected by Arizona state law does not alter the fact that such use may have adverse results and occasionally may cause an injury. This clouds the challenge for employers: Hmmm…does evidence of workplace intoxication, despite the employee having a medical marijuana card mean the employee goes home until the fog clears? No clear answer. Legislature was too busy lining up to sue Feds for clarification of who gets to use which bathroom.

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