Many carriers implemented driver pay increases around the beginning of the year but the pay bumps are continuing as the industry struggles to find qualified help.
West Coast truckload carrier Cheema Freightlines announced Friday it has raised pay by 4 cents per mile for its mileage-based drivers. The increase puts pay at 56 cents per mile for drivers with at least eight years of experience. Drivers can also receive a 2-cent-per-mile monthly bonus after achieving 10,000 miles of safe driving.
The Sumner, Washington-based company has raised pay for its drivers by 13% since August. The average pay for company drivers is $70,000 to $72,000 annually. The company’s highest-paid driver earned almost $90,000 in 2020 and management expects pay for its top drivers to touch $100,000 under the new pay scale.
“Last year we made sure the bonus was easily attainable and lucrative; this year we are making sure the paychecks themselves are reflective of all of the hard work our drivers put in every day,” said Cheema EVP Doug Mayle.
Founded in 2006, the family-owned carrier moves only 100% no-touch, dry van freight primarily along the I-5 corridor. Cheema operates a fleet of 325 tractors and 1,100 trailers but plans to make additions this year as it has 75 tractors and 300 trailers on order.
2020 was a tough year on the nation’s CDL driver pool. Concerns over COVID resulted in a significant number of retirements. Safety protocols at driver schools and violations captured by the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse contributed to an estimated reduction of 200,000 drivers.
“It’s important we recognize our hardest workers with the pay they deserve. As capacity tightens and the pandemic put all professional drivers at risk on the front lines, it is important to make the job more rewarding,” said CEO Harman Cheema.