Driver committees, also known as driver councils, are becoming more prominent in the trucking industry. These councils promote stronger collaboration between the office and drivers, giving drivers an opportunity to have their voice heard on issues that management might not see or understand. In order to learn more about how driver committees work, we interviewed Central Hauling Co, an Arkansas carrier that is proud to have a driver committee in action.
Q. (WorkHound) How does the committee work? (How do you pick members and how often do they meet?)
(Central Hauling) Central Hauling tried to start a committee in 2012. We asked for volunteers from among the fleet to participate. We started with about 10 volunteers. The committee quickly failed and had no traction. After working with two of the founding members, the committee was reinvented. Instead of the company having control of membership, the original two members (Russell Walker and Michael Andres) elected their own positive and like-minded members to fill up the board. They created a mission statement and named their group – Contractor Advisory Board or C.A.B. C.A.B. is an advocate for independent contractors at our company. They take feedback from the road and work for positive solutions and communication. Central Hauling does not dictate their agenda or schedule. Giving them the support needed to run their group independently as professionals was a good decision. C.A.B and Central Hauling do not always agree on topics. But we always have healthy and professional dialogue. They have weekly meetings among themselves via conference calls. They also schedule meetings with management from time to time. They tell us the date and offer the invitation to attend. They conduct the meeting and those invited are in attendance.
Q. What is the benefit for the company?
A. The company benefits in several ways. When we have questions come up that affect drivers, it makes getting feedback or suggestions much easier. It is so much easier to get advice or opinions from drivers as a single voice rather than hundreds of individual voices. Also, the quality and professionalism offered by the committee is unparalleled. Most of the people in the office have never driven a truck and most of the team members behind the wheel have never worked in the office. Our relationship is very symbiotic. We all depend on each other for survival.
Q. What is the benefit for the drivers?
A. Our company is 100 percent independent contractors. They are all paid the same rate. So when a new contractor comes in, he/she has the same status as a veteran. What is the benefit of seniority? Being a member of the committee is a great way for our professional drivers to make a difference and set themselves apart. It also sets up a strong network for them. One committee member may specialize in mechanics, one may be strong on technology, and other members have different strengths. As individuals, they are exposed to weakness in a very tough industry. As a group, their combined knowledge and experiences make them a force to be reckoned with.
Q. Name a specific example of when the committee helped the company make a better decision.
A. Last year, the committee helped the company address an issue of efficiency by suggesting that we start a bonus program. Together we worked on details that resulted in a solid bonus program. It helped us reward drivers who work hard while simultaneously protecting our customer base. They have helped us with several other projects such as a preplanning process and several technological possibilities that benefit our fleet.
Q. Any other valuable details?
A. We are proud of our committee members. C.A.B. has been instrumental in bringing pride and solidarity to Central Hauling. They even write their own monthly newsletter that is distributed to the fleet. They talk about hot topics, health, wellness, maintenance and any other issue that is affecting our industry.
Thanks to Central Hauling for sharing their experience with their driver committee! Does your company have one? Would you like to start one? Comment below with your thoughts and experiences!