The White House unveiled on Thursday a sweeping initiative aimed at shoring up the ranks of the nation’s truck drivers that could potentially lead to boosting driver pay.
The Biden-Harris Administration Trucking Action Plan, to be led by the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Labor, is being launched in the wake of trucking industry challenges exacerbated by the pandemic that include high driver turnover rates, an aging workforce, long hours away from home, and time spent waiting to load and unload — often unpaid — at congested ports, warehouses and distribution centers, according to the White House.
“These actions will support the ongoing economic recovery and lay the foundation for a next-generation trucking workforce that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and support millions of good driving jobs for years to come,” the White House noted.
At the top of the list of initiatives is a plan by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide over $30 million to help states speed the issuance of CDLs.
“Today, FMCSA is sending all 50 states a toolkit detailing specific actions they can take to expedite licensing and will work hand in hand with states to address challenges they are facing,” the White House stated. “FMCSA will also begin closely tracking delays, identifying states that have challenges with issuing CDLs and communicating with all 50 governors about ways they can reduce delays in issuing CDLs.”
Within the next 30 days, FMCSA and DOL will begin an in-depth study of driver compensation to examine truck driver pay, including the time drivers spend waiting to pick up or drop off freight without getting paid, a study that was included as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package that Biden signed into law in November.
The Biden-Harris initiative also includes a major driver recruitment effort, launching a 90-day Apprenticeship Trucking Challenge to be overseen by DOT and DOL and supported by $8 million in funding from DOL. The two departments will be hosting a series of national “Apprenticeship Accelerator” meetings to help carriers develop programs and release a quick-start toolkit for apprenticeships in the trucking sector.
The White House announced that so far EVO Trucking, D.M. Bowman, Yellow Corp., Florida Rock and Tank, Total Transportation, CRST and Albertsons have committed to work with the administration to launch and expand the program. “We are going to work with the Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations, who will help engage their members on the value of a registered apprenticeship to support quality, safety and retention,” the White House stated.
Watch: Driver training during driver shortage (11/2/21)
In addition, a DOL-funded national apprenticeship called FASTPORT focusing on the transportation sector will work with trucking companies, unions and industry associations to establish “registered apprenticeship” programs in as little as 48 hours.
Within the next 60 to 90 days, the action plan also includes:
- An FMCSA pilot program for drivers ages 18-21 as mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, incorporating registered apprenticeships to ensure rigorous training standards and pairing each young driver with an experienced mentor.
- Roundtable discussions hosted by DOT and DOL to discuss efforts to help transitioning service members and veterans obtain CDLs.
- A task force launched by DOT and DOL aimed at promoting, recruiting and advancing women in trucking, as established in the infrastructure law. “This task force will be the first of many strategies to help build the pipeline and diversify the trucking workforce,” the White House stated.
- A task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements that dissuade drivers from entering or staying in the industry.
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