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What is work?

That sounds like a silly question. But in fact, it’s a very real legal question, and one that’s at the heart of a very current argument in trucking.

The argument is over what truckers should be paid for.

My answer, the same things any other American should be paid for.

Others provide a less satisfying answer: Truckers should be paid ONLY when the wheels are turning, and sometimes, not even then.

This is the current argument over mileage pay in Congress, a debate involving Section 611 of the FAA authorization bill, or AIRR Act.

That section would enshrine mileage pay as the national standard. Here’s my problem with that: We have a national standard for every other employed worker, contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If I am doing paperwork in my office, I get paid for that time.

If I take a company vehicle and fuel it up, I get paid for that time.

If I’m in the office or on the job, and something holds everything up, so that I end up waiting to do my job, I get paid for that time.

If my employer requires me to do something for the company at all, I get paid for that time.

Not so for employee truck drivers. And the big carriers, along with their representatives in ATA, want to keep it that way.

The fact is, there is no real debate over what constitutes work in trucking. It’s called the hours-of-service regulations.

On-duty time is work time. Quoting the regulations: “On-duty time means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work. “

That includes any time you are at a shipper, receiver, terminal, carrier’s property, waiting to be dispatched; driving time; time spent inspecting, servicing or doing anything else to the truck, including washing it; any loading or unloading, supervising either of those, assisting that in any way, or even being kept ready while waiting to load or unload; waiting for roadside assistance when the truck breaks down; time taking a drug or alcohol test; or doing anything for the motor carrier whatsoever that in any way furthers their business.

So you tell me – are you paid for all of that?

Out of the 81 words in that paragraph, only two describe what you, the American truck driver, are typically paid to do: driving time.

We have an amendment to our Constitution, the 14th, that says we are all, as American citizens, entitled to equal protection under the law.

The reason you are not paid for most of

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