Vaccine Mandate Leading to Better Driver Pay: Carrier

If there’s a silver lining to come from the current driver shortage and supply chain capacity constraints exacerbated by new mandates requiring cross-border truckers to be fully vaccinated, it’s that drivers are likely to see their compensation increase significantly, according to one of the largest carriers in Canada.

As reported by James Menzies of Trucknews.com:

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s putting the right value on the men and women who do the job,” said Trevor Fridfinnson, chief operating officer of Bison Transport, who was representing the Toronto Transportation Club in a webinar put on by the recently formed North American Transportation Club Alliance (NATCA). “That’s well deserved and needed and if that can be the silver lining, that we can collectively realize the value that needs to be attributed to that role, then there’s some good that can come from this.”

He noted Bison just gave its cross-border drivers the biggest pay increase in company history.

Fridfinnson said there are several factors contributing to the supply chain issues facing industry, including the flooding in B.C. that had a ripple effect on capacity throughout the network. Then, the vaccine mandates that took effect this month took about 10% of cross-border truckers off those routes.

“Our fleet, in preparation for this, months ago started really pushing the need and promotion of vaccines within our organization,” he said.

Even so, about 10% of its cross-border drivers refused the jab, which led to the pay increases – 15% for cross-border company drivers, and 7-8% for owner-operators.

“We did this proactively and it’s been a good strategy to this point, but we are still seeing tightness in our own network,” he said.

Bison is working with its customers to address the supply chain issues, with talks focusing on three key topics: how to optimize the network, scheduling and modal shifts where applicable; recognizing the effect inflation is having on trucking costs, including parts, equipment and labor; and recognizing the opportunists who are trying to take advantage of today’s tight capacity with no long-term viability once market conditions normalize.

Fridfinnson said everyone in the supply chain has a role in ensuring drivers’ time is not wasted, whether at the ports, loading docks or distribution centers.

“We are seeing dwell times going up, and that’s something that’s hurting the ability for us to get to the other side of this,” he said, blaming in part, absenteeism related to Covid-19.

Full story here.

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