Senator intros bill to exempt truckers from COVID vaccine

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Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Oct. 29, 2021:

DHL plans to deploy autonomous trucks

DHL Supply Chain is joining Embark Trucks' Partner Development Program (PDP) and plans to deploy autonomous trucks within its operations upon commercial launch of the Embark Driver software in 2024.

Within the PDP, DHL and Embark conducted a detailed network analysis to begin planning for key factors in deployment, such as determining which lanes to prioritize, where delivery times could be accelerated, and calculating truck volume needs, among other considerations. With Embark Driver-equipped trucks, DHL plans to reap the anticipated speed, safety and sustainability benefits of autonomous technology and pass them on to its global customer network.

“The logistics industry relies on advanced technology solutions like automation to adapt to growing demand and increased expectations around speed,” said Jim Monkmeyer, president of transportation for DHL Supply Chain. “DHL joined Embark’s PDP to prepare for and mold the deployment of autonomous trucks across its network. We’re thrilled to work together so that our end-customers can unlock the efficiencies of autonomous freight.”

Looking ahead, Embark and DHL plan to work through key questions such as which DHL facilities to map directly into Embark’s coverage map to support point-to-point movements, where autonomous trucks may provide an opportunity to grow total miles traveled, and how to prepare the broader DHL workforce for this transformation.

Senator intros bill to exempt truckers from COVID vaccine

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill this week that would, if passed, exempt all “essential workers,” including truck drivers, from President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccine mandate.

The “Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act” calls for an exemption for essential workers from any COVID-19 vaccine mandate imposed by the federal government; a public or private federal contractor; a private entity receiving federal funds; or a public entity receiving funding under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supple8 mental Appropriations Act, 2020; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act; the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act; or the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Blackburn’s bill describes essential workers as those who were “deemed essential during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic” or those who were “exempt from any restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, National Association of Small Trucking Companies and other groups have come out in support of the proposed legislation. OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said the vaccine should remain a personal decision for truckers.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have provided our members with the most up-to-date information on vaccines but have always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice just like any health decision,” he said. “Trucking is already one of the most-regulated professions in the country, and the ongoing supply chain crisis has exposed the unpaid wait times and other difficult working conditions drivers are often forced to endure. These are just a couple of the reasons the industry has long suffered from an excessively high driver turnover problem. Congress must ensure that the industry can better attract and retain drivers who have always been critical in keeping the supply chain moving. This legislation will help accomplish that.”

Kenworth dealer auctioning T680 for Truckers Against Trafficking

This 'Everyday Heroes' Kenworth T680 will be auctioned by Ritchie Bros. on Dec. 10, with proceeds going to Truckers Against Trafficking.This "Everyday Heroes" Kenworth T680 will be auctioned by Ritchie Bros. on Dec. 10, with proceeds going to Truckers Against Trafficking.Inland Kenworth – Phoenix is planning to auction a special “Everyday Heroes” Kenworth T680 to raise money for to educate and fund efforts to combat human trafficking.

Proceeds from the sale of the truck will go directly to Truckers Against Trafficking, a non-profit devoted to stopping human trafficking by educating, mobilizing and empowering the nation’s truck drivers and rest stop employees. 

The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 is fully-loaded with a 76-inch sleeper and Paccar Powertrain featuring a 510-hp Paccar MX-13 engine, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission and Paccar DX-40 rear axles. Ritchie Bros. will host the auction of the Everyday Heroes Kenworth on Dec. 10 in Perris, California.

“I think this year’s auction for the Everyday Heroes truck will be our best yet,” said Don Blake, Inland Kenworth – Phoenix new truck sales manager. “There’s been a lot of interest in the T680 Next Gen, and we expect a good bidder turnout. The sale of the truck will likely result in TAT’s largest single donation of the year and help fund programs that make a difference.”  

This will be the third Everyday Heroes Kenworth truck built and sold at auction since 2017 under Blake’s leadership. The inaugural Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 raised $83,000 for TAT in 2017, while the 2019 version contributed $162,000 to the cause.

Cargo Transporters raising driver pay again

Cargo Transporters (CCJ Top 250, No. 170) is raising driver pay for the third time this year, effective Nov. 7, for its local, short-haul and over-the-road drivers. In addition to the pay increase, the company is also giving all employees an additional week of paid time off (PTO) in 2022.

Pay will increase for solo drivers by an additional 2 cents per Rand McNally practical mile on all dispatched miles, increasing starting base pay to 54 cents per mile. Team driver pay will increase 1 cent per mile on all dispatched miles. Additionally, local and short-haul pay will increase. The company’s All-In pay will increase to 60 cents per mile.

Along with these increases, maximum Wait Time pay, Layover and Breakdown pay have been adjusted upward. 

Additionally, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Cargo Transporters employees will gain another week of PTO. New employees starting with the company will accrue three weeks of PTO, gaining an additional week of PTO at 10, 20 and 30 year anniversaries.