Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chicken Hauler Goes Belly Up

Full story at Tulsa World

Employees and drivers of Arrow Trucking Co. are in a quandary Tuesday, some going home and wondering if they have jobs at the west Tulsa company.

Arrow, which operates about 1,400 trucks throughout the United States, is in financial difficulty, drivers say.

Drivers from Tennessee to Wyoming said they have had the company stop payment on their gas cards, stranding them at truck stops around the country.


Williams said workers weren't given their last paychecks and benefits have been cut off. Some drivers are stranded along their routes and are struggling to find a way home because of orders to sideline the rigs, she said.

Arrow truck driver Ruben Bradley, who had stopped at a truck stop in Wichita Falls, Texas, said he was told Monday night by a dispatcher to take his load for delivery in New Mexico. Bradley said Tuesday that he has decided he's not going to move until he is assured he can refuel after he delivers his load.

"A driver was told they're shutting the doors and to bring his truck to the nearest Freightliner dealer or Arrow terminal," Bradley said.

"He was told if you took it to the Freightliner dealer, they would see about getting us back home."

Even among employees, information about the company's future was scarce.
There are really two definitions for "chicken hauler" in the latest trucker vernacular - one is a decked out show quality truck, and the other is less complimentary. Fleet trucks that are plain jane, governed slowly, underpowered, rate cutters, and generally in the way of the rest of us when we're trying to get somewhere would be definition number two.

Not that I have a real problem with a company trying to control costs, mind you, but - it sure seems that the cost controls are heaped on the backs of their drivers, too. Most companies pay their drivers by the mile - but they pay on map miles rather than actual miles driven. So, about the only time map miles match actual miles driven is if one manages to load and unload on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas. Like the west side of St. Louis to the east side of Denver. If you have to go across town in both cases, that can add over a hundred miles to your trip that you won't be getting paid for. Or a major detour can add miles not paid. Another little dig is to have the truck programmed to shut off after a minute or so idling. So, the truck will die at stoplights, and when it's hot or cold, the driver can't stay comfortable in the bunk - since the truck won't run long enough to keep the A/C or heat on. Auxiliary Power Units (APU's) are the solution, but many companies refuse to spend the extra money on such "frills." Add the practice of making a driver sit at a truck stop for days waiting on a load, or deadheading without pay or sharply reduced pay to pick up a load - geez, is it any wonder these companies have high driver turnover?

Often these companies are the first place a fresh driving school graduate ends up at - since a lot of schools are linked with such stellar employers. Keeps 'em in fresh meat, as it were. Rookies have to start somewhere, but most don't have a clue what they're getting into.

Arrow has a pretty bad reputation - a simple web search will find a lot of bad info on forums and the like. It's one thing to go belly up, but to strand their drivers just before Christmas? Arrow actually dispatched drivers with loads knowing they were going to shut their doors and kill their fuel cards. Their management has known of this for quite some time, so one can only infer what sort of benefits they received by keeping this quiet until the last second. I'm quite sure "they got theirs" out before the walls came crashing down.

But, again, stranding their drivers before Christmas? Despicable. I can only hope that they stay out of business - that's one less scummy rate cutting outfit in the mix.

H/T Wayne at Life On The Road

1 comment:

Earl said...

I will pray that the drivers all get home, there should be a law against launching failures to deliver and return, but then again I would like better behavior from all management. One would hope they are human.