Journalism

And the anger began to ferment

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Some trucking companies, or at least this one, intentionally recruit way more people than they have trucks for. All these people in the photo are sitting around, waiting for trainers that don’t exist yet. The company knows the average stay for an over-the-road driver at a company is 4.2 months. They get no commitment so they offer no commitment — a self-fulfilling problem. Some of the men in this room have been waiting a week, two weeks, for a truck of their own to drive. The discontent is pervasive. None of them were told of an indefinite wait. “Can’t sit on my ass,” someone says as I type. “Been waitin’ too long.” But what can they do? The company knows that the people who truck are the people who need to truck. They can be treated like cattle. If one gets fed up and packs out, look at the photo. They’ve got 20 other people in the room to take their place.

I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath right now:

Tom said, “Back home some fellas come through with han’bills—orange ones. Says they need lots a people out here to work the crops.”

The young man laughed. “Look,” the young man said. “S’pose you got a job a work. You got to pay ‘im what he asts. But s’pose they’s a hunderd men. S’pose them men got kids, an’ them kids is hungry.” He put down his tool. His eyes hardened and his voice sharpened. “They say they’s three hunderd thousan’ us folks here, an’ I bet ever’ dam’ fam’ly seen them han’bills.”

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