Port Trucker's Pay

Don’t know how accurate this is but it would explain a shortage of drivers,

I brought this up in another thread. In Seattle these drivers are called “temps”. They are not ILWU. ILWU reserves certain jobs for themselves: driving the cranes, lashing down boxes, etc. The stevedoring firms hire the temps. They’re not short haul drivers. They’re short-short haul drivers: around the terminals themselves, and around to the outer container yards. In Seattle a lot are recent (legal) immigrants. They make minimum wage, if you break it down hourly, if they’re working.

“Working for free” is a pejorative comment. Does a taxi driver work for free? Temps are like the drivers taxi-medallion owners hire to drive their taxis. The passengers in this scenario being the containers.


A question I will ask my son .“How does this shit work in your port?” A major in logistics,he is presently doing his much extended Naval Reserve committment, but will return to his regular job in container ops in Virginia in the near future. You may not like the answer, but he will give me the straight stuff. I am sure the truckers are playing a big part. The giant ass cranes delivered recently do make a difference in loading/unloading. But the logistics from that point will be an interesting chat. California does handcuff the trucking companies with the 3 year old maximum age of the trucks servicing their ports. Not sure the east coast ports do that.

Imagine if more of the containers were unloaded directly from the ship to either a barge or a rail car………nah, that would take too much planning and initial capital expense.

Trucking has been the default option because the true total expense of trucking infrastructure is passed off implicitly to taxpayers. Truck owners only pay a small total cost—fixed price of truck ownership variable costs of driver and O&M.

And cheap fuel costs, don’t forget cheap fuel.

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Container Ubers basically?

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Are they owner/operators? If so then the truckers could be said to have made a choice as to how they operate. Like any other wage earner there may be uncomfortable external influences involved in choosing the least painful of a limited number of options but until the working world is “fair” to everyone, that’s life.

If the truckers are company employees then again they made a choice but I agree that the companies are taking advantage of lousy social and economic conditions to screw workers who might not have other options.

Insert your favorite socioeconomic cliche here.

Yes, it could be said that taxi drivers do work for free in the sense that idle cabs provide “slack” in the system.

It’s only relevant in the case of taxi drivers if the argument is being made that taxi driver are underpaid. The purpose of the medallion system is to limit the number of cabs so that the fares stay high enough to compensate for the wait times such that the pay is adequate.

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Now the ride share gig worker and his car are the FoC of the taxi world.

Spot on analogy!

And people also are hoodwinked that all the tech companies only pay sixfigure plus to white collar workers with golden benefits and free sushi and beer at work……. Not

Haven’t read this yet but looks relevant.

I thought California all but banned O/Os and trucks that were over a certain age? Surely this would also contribute to the back log.

Yawn …


Be careful what you wish for. The loss of American jobs is a problem. Do we want as system that gets rid of more American jobs?

Here’s a great article from the Seattle Times that describes a port trucker’s life and profession. It was written during the Great Recession when we had the opposite problem–a lack of containers, as trade slowed. From the article:

… the average short-haul trucker at the Port of Seattle drove an 11-year-old rig, worked 11 hours a day and earned $31,000 a year…Most drivers do not have health insurance, retirement plans or paid vacation…Almost half of the 147 drivers surveyed by Port Jobs spoke a language other than English at home, with 19 different languages listed…

…“After the trucking industry was deregulated [in the 1980s] we’ve seen a fundamental shift toward having more recent immigrants in our industry. There are no barriers. Anyone with capital to buy a used truck could get into the market,” said Dan Gatchet, a former president of the Washington Trucking Association…Most are independent contractors who own or lease a rig. They depend on the companies they work for to dispatch them to jobs…

…Unlike long-haul truckers, who are generally paid per mile, short-haul truckers tend to be paid for every container they haul. On a good day, a driver might make eight runs. But the average, according to the Port Jobs study, is just under four runs…[On a recent day a driver, Singh,] grossed $250. Fuel and insurance for the day cost an estimated $170… they want to be paid for their time in line, waiting at port terminals to load or unload…

…Their situation is made more difficult, they say, by their dependence on well-paid longshoremen, who unload ships and move the cargo onto trucks. They say they have to wait while longshoremen take coffee and lunch breaks. Frustrated by drivers’ inexperience, longshoremen sometimes curse at them, truckers say…

…Singh…owes $25,000 on the used truck he bought for $32,000…

May be behind a paywall. Also, keep in mind written 13 years ago.


It is a really complicated problem. Not enough chassis to handle the containers, lack of the port operators ability to ramp up operations quickly, lack of rail transportation, lack of warehouse storage space and other issues, all related. Couple all that with the gig truck drivers and Covid? This is going to take some time to sort out. It’s temporary and kind of to be expected when a pandemic has killed millions of people and counting.

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I agree. We developed a worldwide, finely-tuned, just-in-time logistics chain. It is now out-of-tune. C19 disrupted the chain in a myriad of ways, on a number of different levels.

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Truckers helping to wean Americans off Chinese goods


A twitter thread on immigrant taxi drivers in NY city.

Great question.

Every city has a different system or regulatory arrangement with taxis. ALL of them intending to somehow make if profitable for owners and drivers. With mixed success.

Thus the evolution of ride staring.

I’ve recently read that somebody is trying (or has??) an app for truck drivers to find loads to haul, similar to ride sharing.


Individual Cargo owner with a need meets independent truck driver with a need. How glorious is that?

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One of them is called “Big Road”.

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There are a number of Load Apps that truckers use. They have been around for several years. My nephew was one of the people who setup Uber Freight.