Trucks at Work

Backing the Guard

Hats off to David Miller, president of Con-way Freight-Central: he got up before the U.S. Commission on the National Guard and Reserves in Alexandria, Va., and said not only do business employers need to stay strong in their support of employees serving in the National Guard, but that they should INCREASE that support BEYOND what's required by law.

“It is not just a responsibility, it is a duty that as business leaders we continue to support these brave men and women and their families while they are called to serve, and to help them return successfully to the workforce when their duties end,” he said in his testimony.

Miller said Con-way -- which employs 28 soldiers on active duty and more than 90 members of the Guard or reserves -- continues full health benefits for their families, plus pays them the differential between what the employee would have earned working at Con-way and the amount of military pay received.

Here's what these actions cost his company: More than $1,100 (in 2006) in monthly premiums for each family‘s health insurance coverage; More than $4,100 in military differential pay, on average, per employee in 2006; Approximately $4,000 to train each replacement driver sales representative and mechanic ; some

$54,000-$100,000 to relocate each replacement employee required in an alternate location; and finally significant overtime pay when required due to vacancies outstripping available personnel.

“These employees and their families are making a tremendous sacrifice,” said Miller. “We are committed to supporting our deployed employees, their families and the nation, and we encourage other employers to learn from our experience and to adopt similar value systems."

Now, of course, Miller and Con-way would like to see some changes, too -- but they are not unreasonable, I think. Granting a longer window of time between notification and reporting for active duty, to help minimize disruptions to a business' workforce, is a smart one for starters. "A wider reporting window will help businesses manage the replacement of key employees with less impact on operations and customers," he said.

Miller also called on the Commission to consider recommendations to Congress that would provide for tax or other incentives to companies that provide full financial support to its employees while on reserve duty. "There are costs involved when reservists are deployed, both in hiring, training and paying replacement staff, and the continuing support of that employee and the family while that employee is on active duty," Miller noted. "It would be appropriate for Congress to consider some form of relief for those companies that demonstrate this level of commitment."

These are some pretty good points and, if adopted, would only serve to help bolster the ranks of National Guard and build more support for that vital organization among the ranks of businesses larger and small. And thanks to Mr. Miller, trucking is leading the charge, to boot.