The Who’s Better Off Game:Truck Transport Workers

They are American icons — truckers in big rigs criss-crossing the nation, delivering more freight than any other form of transportation. Still, being an icon matters little when jobs are disappearing and wages are stuck in neutral. Truck transportation employees, including big rig drivers, have been among the hardest-hit of any single group over the past four years…

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

In June, Teamsters President James Hoffa quit a White House trade panel in protest of President Bush’s decision to sign a Central American trade agreement Hoffa said would weaken protections for workers. But Hoffa has other, more immediate reasons to resent Bush’s leadership.

Since 2000, more than 68,000 heavy truck driver jobs have been lost. What’s more, real wages for big rig drivers are slipping. In mid 2003, truck drivers were actually earning about 3 percent less in real income than they were in mid 2000. Even in states where big rig drivers can find work, wages are falling behind the cost of living.

In California, for instance, where truck transport companies added more than 7,500 big rig driver jobs between 2000 and 2003, inflation-adjusted wages actually dropped by about .7 percent. And in Florida, where more than 4,500 driver jobs were added in the same period, real wages fell by nearly 4 percent.

And big rig drivers aren’t the only truck transport workers doing less well today than in 2000. Laborers, including the workers who load and unload freight, have been hit terribly hard. Nationwide, jobs for truck transport laborers disappeared at an astonishing rate of 40 percent between 2000 and 2003, and they aren’t coming back.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend