Fleetowner 1671 Three Trucks

Driver-driven compensation

Nov. 16, 2007
Tasked with blending two compensation packages, Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI), a Con-way company, made the most of the challenge and went directly to its drivers

Tasked with blending two compensation packages, Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI), a Con-way company, made the most of the challenge and went directly to its drivers-- querying them on which features and benefits would pack the most punch.

According to the Joplin, MO-based international truckload carrier, it designed the unified compensation plan it announced this week to maintain the best elements of existing CFI and Con-way Truckload offerings after Con-way’s July 2007 acquisition of CFI. The new pay package will go into effect Jan. 1, the same date the CFI name will fade away and the operation will be known solely as Con-way Truckload.

“Our new, combined compensation package was designed from behind the wheel — not from behind the desk — to be one of the best and most competitive in the industry,” said Herb Schmidt, CFI president. “We’re proud to be able to offer our drivers an improved compensation package and several other amenities despite the challenging economic conditions facing our industry.”

Schmidt said the blended package offers “many driver favorites” including:

  • Pay raise. Pay for all drivers will increase by $.01 per mile across the board. “When combined with CFI’s long length of hauls and Con-way’s predictable miles, this creates one of the most comprehensive and attractive pay packages in the industry.”
  • Enhanced military pay. CFI drivers called to military service in the National Guard and Reserves will receive differential compensation (the difference between military pay and previous earnings) and continued full health benefits to the employee’s family throughout the deployment.
  • Weekly pay schedule. Driver pay schedule will switch from every two weeks to every week.
  • Raise in student pay. Less experienced and student drivers will have the ability to earn the compensation of experienced drivers more quickly.
  • Health savings accounts. Drivers can choose to contribute to these tax-advantaged medical savings accounts designed to cover the costs of approved medical expenses.
  • Roomier, more comfortable trucks. “Transitioning to Freightliner Cascadia and Kenworth T660 models featuring a combination of expanded and studio sleeper accommodations designed expressly for more room and improved driver comfort. “
  • Increased HazMat endorsement. Drivers certified to carry hazardous materials will be reimbursed up to 100% for certification costs and will receive an additional $.03 per mile when hauling placarded hazardous materials.
  • Increased stop pay. Drivers will be paid $35 per stop, eliminating the previous graduated system in which average per-stop pay totaled $29.
  • Detention pay. After three hours, drivers will receive $12 per hour to help alleviate the frustration of extended delays. Detention pay will be automatic and will no longer depend on customer payments received.
  • Canada routes optional. While travel into Canada was previously mandatory for some drivers, those routes will now be voluntary and drivers who choose to go to Canada will be paid $25 additional for each loaded dispatch that crosses the U.S./Canada border (North- and South-bound).
  • Ability to bank days. Drivers will have the opportunity to accumulate days off during extended periods on the road for later use, and those days will carry over year to year.

“I’m grateful to the 750 drivers who helped us craft this package,” said Scmidt, who noted the combined operation employs over 3,000 drivers. “Our goal was to offer a package that was superior to the compensation package our professional drivers enjoy today and we clearly met that goal.”

Schmidt told FleetOwner at least two surprises came from having senior managers survey drivers at meetings about their likes and dislikes. “We’ve always run premium equipment but did not realize how much the extra room of a larger sleeper meant to solo as well as team drivers,” he said. “Despite the higher cost to buy, maintain and fuel larger trucks, we’re biting the bullet and buying them.” Schmidt said drivers indicated they could accept a little less pay if they knew they could work ”with extra elbow room, day and night” in extended sleepers. “This is not something we’d have done if I scripted this from behind a desk,” he stated.

Schmidt also said drivers’ displeasure about mandatory Canadian runs was also surprising. “It’s one thing to drive your car into Canada—the language is the same, the roads look the same and there are no documents. We simply did not realize the paperwork burden on our drivers to cross so we’re making those dispatches optional. There may be a cost to us to run ‘turn trucks,’ but we can make it work for both our customers and our drivers.”

Given the impact of the U.S. economy on the truckload driver shortage, Schmidt said it was “hard to quantify” an exact ROI for the new plan but he noted that the cost of larger trucks will be spread out over four years and that he definitely views the payback coming in terms of both reduced turnover and easier recruitment of the best drivers.

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