News and Media

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Let's harness the power of new technology to create a 21st Century freight movement system that benefits all of us.

 

My new research on the likely impacts of autonomous trucks on truckers is out from Working Partnerships USA and the UC Labor Center.

 

Learn more about it here.

2018

September 4th

My new research on the labor impacts of autonomous trucks is available! Download the report here. Read Jennifer Smith's coverage in the Wall Street Journal here. It's time to take the next steps in the public conversation about trucking and automation to ensure we maximize the benefits of technology to create a 21st Century freight movement system that works for all of us. I hope Driverless? furthers the conversation.

August 11th

The New York Times published an editorial, "The Trouble with Trucking," that draws on my research on misclassification and discusses a Supreme Court case involving Dominic Oliveira. I wrote a brief supporting Dominic's right to take his employer to court to fight abusive practices using a class action lawsuit. If Dominic loses, long-haul truckers misclassified as independent contractors by their employers may be forced into individual arbitration, effectively stopping many challenges to abusive practices in the industry.

 

The August 2nd

Curtis Killman at Tusla World covered a misclassification and minimum wage class action lawsuit against John Christner Trucking. This suit is one of several that may eventually change the employment practices of the industry. As Curtis and I discussed, these suits are likely to grow in number. Read his article here.

 

July 30th

I will be talking about the truck driver shortage on "The Morning Show with Carrie Kaufman" on Wisconsin Public Radio Monday at 7:00am eastern! Everyone wants to know what's causing it (predatory employers and bad working conditions), what to do about it (strengthen regulations to protect workers) and whether self-driving trucks will end it (no). Connect with the show here.

July 28th

Several truckers and I submitted an amicus brief this week to the Supreme Court in support of Dominic Oliveira. Dominic is fighting for the right of long-haul truckers to take employers who violate labor laws to court through a class action lawsuit. The other side, Prime trucking, is arguing truckers should be forced to individually arbitrate over such violations. Read our brief here. You can read more about the case here.

 

July 23rd

Had another great conversation with Mark Willis and all the listeners on Road Dog Radio News today about autonomous trucks. Thanks to all the drivers who called in!

 

July 17th

Manila Chan and I talked about the trucking infrastructure for Boom and Bust on RT TV. You can watch the interview here.

 

July 5th

Michael Catarevas wrote several stories for American Trucker about my research and ideas to make trucking better, including the cover story, with photography by Armando Viscelli. Check them out here and here

June 25th

Alana Semuels spent a day working for Amazon Flex, Amazon's new delivery service.  She wrote an article for the Atlantic that clearly explains why we don't want this to be the future of last-mile delivery, something she and I discussed.  Right now, we have a lot of good jobs in last mile delivery, turning them into gig work will come at a major cost for workers and cities for a number of reasons.  Read about Alana's experience here.

June 20th

Thanks to Mark Willis and all the listeners on XMSirius' Road Dog Radio for another great conversation about driver pay.  July 23rd from 2-3pm EST we will discuss my new report on self-driving trucks.

June 12th

Rachel Premack and I had a long conversation about trucking. One aspect of the job that we discussed, that too few people think seriously about, is the health consequences of long-haul jobs.  Well, if you are going to read one thing on that issue, Rachel just wrote it for the Business Insider.  Read it here - please

May 28th

Emily Hines wrote a really great article on trucker songs for Current Affairs. She and I talked about how trucking has been depicted since the 1970s and how today there is renewed attention to what trucking is and who truckers are.  She quotes the Big Rig and tells Claudio's story of being dispatched through Hurricane Katrina - a story that still sticks in my head years later.  Read Emily's article here.

 

May 8

Thank you to Tom Cochan and the incredible faculty and students at the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT for a wonderful visit and discussion of my new research on autonomous trucks.

May 4

Read my Q&A with Michele Berger on Penn News.  We discussed my current research project on self-driving trucks and their labor and energy impacts.

May 2

Read Mark Harris' in-depth piece in Medium on the state of development in self-driving trucks. Mark and I discussed my new research, which suggests that job quality is at least as big of a concern as job loss.  

April 25th

Everyone is wondering what is in store for the trucking industry as Amazon and e-commerce more generally place new demands on the industry and the driver "shortage" continues to plague carriers.  Evelyn Cheng at CNBC and I discussed these issues.  You can read her article here.

 

April 19th

Just had a great time on Road Dog Radio News with Mark Willis on SiriusXM 146.  We discussed new data showing wage increases for drivers as well as the incredible bonuses being offered. We had some fantastic call-ins from experienced drivers.  Their advice is the same that I would give to new drivers: there are good companies out there hiring, talk to other drivers first and beware of bonuses that are there just to get you in the door. But then go out and get yourself a raise!  2018 is going to be a good year to improve your pay.

 

March 29th

Michele Berger wrote a great article on the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy's Energy Now podcast series.  She highlights my episode on self-driving trucks with Andy Stone.  Read it here.

 

March 19th

Charlie Turner started a wikitribune article on the recent fatal accident involving an Uber test vehicle. Charlie and I discussed how this indicates how much work still needs to done before we can expect self-driving trucks to be on the road. You can read and contribute to the article here.

February 27th

Want to know more about the potential energy and labor impacts of self-driving trucks? Andy Stone and I recorded a podcast for the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy's series Energy Policy Now. You can listen to The Promise and Perils of Self-Driving Trucks here.

February 14th

Some good coverage of the truck driver shortage, self-driving trucks and my concept of urban truck ports in the Daily Gazette out of Schenectady, NY!  Check it out here.

February 5th

The Big Rig has been covered by some of the most influential print media in the US, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Atlantic. As a result of that coverage, it has had an impact on debates about some major issues facing the industry. The most rewarding response to the book for me, however, is when individuals, particularly drivers, tell me what they thought of it.  It is also wonderful to hear about students reading and learning about the challenges facing truck drivers today.  I was humbled to read this piece in Everyday Sociology from Colby King, a sociologist at Bridgewater State University, about using The Big Rig in his class on the sociology of work.  I am so glad the book can help students think about the important issues facing workers outside the trucking industry.

 

February 4th

The amount of time drivers spend unpaid while waiting has serious effects on safety and pay. Michelle Rafter at Trucks.com wrote an article on the FMCSA's latest report on the issue. Unfortunately, we still don't have answer to how much time drivers spend waiting per week.  We could get it if carriers would share data and that data were properly interpreted to understand the systematic under-reporting of non-driving work time in logs. Until then, as Michelle quotes me, trucking's "original sin" will continue to make drivers less safe and productive.

 

February 1st

Two articles were published today that represent a major step in a more productive conversation about how self-driving trucks will affect truck drivers.  First, Michelle Rafter at Trucks.com wrote a great piece about Kristen Monaco and Maury Gittleman's important paper on the actual number of tractor-trailer drivers whose work might be automated. Michelle and I discussed how far fewer jobs are at risk than previous research has suggested. 

Meanwhile, over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal covered Uber's latest blog post about their plans to develop exit-to-exit self-driving operations.  He and I talked about how job quality is actually a bigger concern than job losses from self-driving trucks and how policy will be critical to ensuring good trucking jobs. We should not fear losing jobs from automation, we should shape its development so that we get the outcomes we want.  You can read his piece here.

 

January 18th

I spoke with the Charles Turner about the possibility of exit-to-exit self-driving trucks and the threat to jobs.  He started a wikitribune post about the issue.  You can read the article, join the conversation, and contribute here.

2017

December 6th

I published an editorial today on Trucks.com about what I think is the real injustice of the ELD mandate: it puts an economic burden on small businesses while not fixing the bigger problem with HOS, which is drivers not reporting hours they aren't paid for.  Driver pay is the real problem and until drivers are paid for waiting at docks and shippers pay that cost, the problem will continue. You can read my editorial here.

December 6th

Cliff Kuang over at Fast Company published a piece on Embark's exit-to-exit self-driving model for autonomous trucks.  He quotes me about the potential for such a model to dovetail with the kind of efficiency gains possible from my concept of Urban Truck Ports.  The big question for me, which I'm working on in my current project, is how we can ensure the local jobs created are high-quality.

November 14th

Anger over the approaching ELD mandate – just a month away – is growing as small fleets and independents face the reality of the costs involved.  The big cost, of course, is that some truckers won't be able to falsify their logbooks as much.  Drivers at big companies have short lengths of haul and they can continue to not record waiting time with computer logs, which record only driving time automatically (and still miss a good deal of that!).  It is small companies and drivers with long loads that are going to be hurt, even though nearly everyone will continue to cheat extensively.  The real problem is that HOS are fatally flawed and truckers aren't paid for much of the work they do.  Unfortunately, there is not much drivers can do about it.  I spoke with Clarissa Hawes over at Trucks.com about all this.  Check out her article here.

 

November 13th

I did an interview with Richard Ocejo for the New Books Network about The Big Rig last week. We talked about my fieldwork and all the sociology of the book, from how I use Burawoy's concept of games to current challenges against misclassification.  Richard is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017), which I can't wait to read.  You can listen to our conversation here.

October 2nd

Labor Notes published a review of The Big Rig by Ryan Haney, a driver and Teamster from Dallas, TX.  Ryan said he found it "extremely valuable" in explaining what happened to long-haul trucking and for those who need to understand what drivers today experience, but that "The Big Rig’s message should be of interest to all workers."  It is always great to get this kind of response from the drivers who know the industry best.  You can read Ryan's review here.

September 13th

I'll be speaking tomorrow at UMass Amherst's Department of Sociology at 11:30 about how predatory employers convince vulnerable workers to become independent contractors. You can get more information here.

September 12th

David Hill wrote an awesome piece for The Ringer about the National Truck Driving Championship and the incredible skill and value of experienced drivers.  He draws on The Big Rig and much more to put the event within the larger context of deregulation and the decline of worker power in the industry.

September 5th

The question of whether self-driving trucks will solve or worsen the driver shortage (the subject of some of my current research) is drawing attention to existing problems for truckers.  Check out some of the coverage of this issue and points made in The Big Rig in Supply Chain News here and here.

September 1st

I had a great conversation with Matt Townsend this morning on BYU radio about the challenges facing truckers and how predatory employers are able to convince workers to become independent contractors and get them to take on the risk and burden of owning trucks and typically without any benefit. You can download the audio from our conversation here.

August 20th

The Herald-Palladium asks why a shortage of truckers doesn't lead to pay increases for drivers.  They cite Money's coverage of The Big Rig and explain how deregulation and deunionization led to a labor market where workers no longer benefit when demand for their labor increases.

August 17th

Claire Ballentine published an excellent article today in the Washington Post on the state of trucking's labor market.  Claire deftly lays out the many-sided challenge the industry faces in recruiting and retaining workers today and in the near future.  Claire highlights several of the main points of The Big Rig about the challenges of life on the road and meeting the challenges of OTR driving.

July 21st

I had a great conversation with Robin Johnson on Heartland Politics about the state of trucking work and the challenges facing drivers today in rigged labor markets.  You can listen to the audio here.

July 10th

Check out Clarissa Hawes' new article - "Trucking Industry Debates Whether to Alter Driver Pay Model" - about driver pay and hear my take - along with that of Michael Belzer and Allen Smith - on why truckers' compensation needs a rethinking.

June 25th

Read Emma Hurt's excellent article, "Goals, reality often clash for truck drivers".  Emma and I discussed why workers choose trucking, why they leave the industry so fast, and why the industry's driver shortage may be a self-inflicted wound.

June 22nd

Max Chafkin and Josh Eidelson published a fascinating read in Bloomberg Businessweek titled, "These Truckers Work Alongside the Coders Trying to Eliminate Their Jobs." They do a great job getting at the cultural differences between silicon valley and the tremendous importance of the labor impacts of self-driving trucks on labor.  Max and I talked about all that and more.

May 30th

I will return to Road Dog Radio Sirius XM 146 with Mark Willis at 2:00 pm today to talk about Trip Gabriel's NYT's article.  The idea of truckers feeling like "throwaway people" really hit a nerve.  It's time the voice of these workers was heard more clearly by the public and decision-makers.

May 22nd

Read Trip Gabriel's New York Time's Article on interviewing truckers in Effingham, IL, and his companion pieces.  He mentions The Big Rig and my recommendation of "trucking central."

May 8th

I had another great conversation today with Mark Willis and all the drivers that called in to Road Dog Radio News on SiriusXM 146 about the future of the owner-operator model in long-haul trucking.  Right now the model is under stress because of its high cost to workers and legal challenges.  In particular, class action lawsuits by drivers against Celadon, Central Refrigerated Services and Swift (I serve as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Celadon and Central Refrigerated cases) are going to determine whether the risks and costs of the model are worth it for large OTR firms. 

April 25th

Clarissa Hawes over at Trucks.com and I discussed why owner-operator income declined last year and why truckers should get paid for all the time they work, not just the miles they drive.  You can read her article here.

April 24th

Supply Chain Digest featured a discussion with me about The Big Rig in their weekly News Makers Video Series.  You can watch it here.

April 22nd

Rachel Uranga wrote a great article for the Press-Telegram about how hard it is to recruit enough workers to fill the seats of long-haul trucks.  We talked about how hard the job is and how important it is that workers get an accurate portrayal of the job before they get saddled with debt for training or, even worse, a truck.  You can read her piece here.

March 29th

I joined John Hausladen, President of the Minnesota Trucking Association, on Minnesota Public Radio with host Tom Weber to discuss the questions of the day: how soon will self-driving trucks be on the road and how many truckers will lose their jobs. You can listen to the program here.

March 20th

Had a great conversation with Mark Willis today on Road Dog Radio (Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 146) about The Big Rig, turnover and independent contracting.  Thank you to all the drivers that called in on the important issues facing truckers.  I very much appreciated the comments and insights and I can't wait to get back on Road Dog Radio to talk about what we can do to get drivers' perspectives heard and, hopefully, get some changes made to get drivers more of what they deserve.

March 17th

Read Daniel Gross' post in Strategy+Business: "Trucking and the Downside of the Gig Economy."  He talks about The Big Rig and how, when thinking about turnover, we can't forget that some workers really do want job security!

March 16th

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy published my policy digest, Stalled, about Urban Truck Ports and truck efficiency, you can download it here.

March 13th

Supply Chain Digest published an article asking readers to respond to "Straight Talk on the Truck Driver Shortage" referring to coverage of my research in the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.  Read it here.

March 8th

I got the chance to talk with Stan Bunger and Holly Quan about the truck driver shortage today on KCBS in San Francisco.

March 7th

Check out Lauren Weber’s article in the Wall Street Journal about The Big Rig and Who is to Blame for the Truck Driver Shortage.

February 27th

Read Alana Semuels' Atlantic article "When Robots Take Bad Jobs" about self-driving trucks, public subsidy of turnover, and job losses in trucking.  She draws on my book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.

January 6th

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh and Jacob Steinblatt wrote a powerful story about Michael Suson's attempt to help truckers suffering from depression through a facebook group called Truckers for Truckers.  Life on the road can be very difficult, the story quotes me about the toxic mix of isolation, stress, and distance from loved ones.

 

2016

 

December 30th

Larry Kahaner's story on The Big Rig was #5 on FleetOwner's list of the "Ten Most Popular Stories of 2016".  See the list here.

December 18th

Trucks.com ran an article this morning by Michelle Rafter on truck driver fatalities on the job.  She quoted me about the tradeoff drivers make between productivity and safety.  No one wants trucks to be safe more than truck drivers, but low pay, driver managers, and independent contracting put constant pressure on them to drive more.  Read it here.

October 28th

The Pennsylvania Gazette published an excerpt from The Big Rig and a Q&A I did with Trey Popp about problems in trucking and what can be done about them.  Check it out here

October 26th

Tomorrow at 11am my interview with Elizabeth Fiedler will air on WHYY's Radio Times. You can listen live on 90.9 FM in the Philadelphia area or online here.  Afterwards, the audio will be posted here.  And you can follow Elizabeth's live tweeting of the show: @whyyradiotimes and @EAFiedler.

October 18th

I've joined the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania as a Senior Fellow.  I will be working on urban freight policy, including my proposal for urban truck ports.  Here is the announcement from the center.

September 21st

I talked about The Big Rig at the Center for Ethnographic Research at UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. The event was co-sponsored by the Labor Center.  Watch my talk on Youtube.

Sept. 18th

Tomorrow (Monday, September 19th) my interview with Mark Burns for "Thinking Aloud" will air on XM Sirius Satellite Channel 143.  The program begins at 9 pm EST.  You can listen to streaming audio of my conversation with Mark here.

September 13th

The Big Rig is a "selected new publication" noted in the October issue of Industrial Relations, one of the leading journals of employment and labor relations.

September 1st

Industry Watch, the newsletter of the Used Truck Association, just published the second part of the Q&A Brad Schepp and I did on The Big Rig.  In this segment, we talked about driver health, women in trucking and autonomous trucks. You can read part 2 of our interview here.

August 14th

My publisher, UC Press, posted a Q&A with me on The Big Rig in advance of the American Sociological Association's annual meetings.  You can read it here.

August 13th 

I'm back from three weeks teaching in China - an incredible experience! 

July 20th

The Used Truck Association just published a great Q&A on The Big Rig, check it out here!

July 14th

I will be on the Dave Nemo Show today on Sirius XM's Road Dog Radio Channel 146 talking about The Big Rig at 10:30 EST.

June 30th

Check out my editorial on Trucks.com about turnover and truckers stranded on the road over the 4th of July.

June 21nd

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 22nd) I will talk with Dan Loney, host of Knowledge at Wharton, on Sirius XM Business Radio Channel 111.  The show starts at 10am.  I'll join the show at 11:30. 

June 16th

I had a great conversation about my research with Peter Cappelli, UPenn Wharton Business School Professor and host of In the Workplacelast night on Sirius XM Business Radio Channel 111.

June 11th 

Trucking Live published an article on my research.

June 1st 

The Penn Current published an article about The Big Rig by Michele Berger.  Check it out here.

May 23rd

Industry leader Transport Topics said my piece in The Atlantic was "what they're reading" this week. 

May 18th

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association's magazine Landline asked, "Why is everyone talking about Steve Viscelli" on its blog in response to media attention to The Big Rig and my article in The Atlantic.

May 17th  

Sociologist Lisa Wade wrote a great blog post on Sociological Images linking my research to the bigger story of the decline of the middle class in the US.  

May 16th  

I discussed the potential of apps to reduce waiting and congestion at ports with Carina Ockedahl.  Read her article here.

May 11th

Truckers News calls my Atlantic article a "hard punch square in the nose" for the trucking industry's employment practices.

May 10th

Time wrote an article on my piece in The Atlantic.  Read it here.

May 10th

I published a piece in The Atlantic about the drivers in The Big Rig.  Read it here.

May 3rd

I subjected The Big Rig to the "page 99 test", check out my blog post here.

April 28th

The Swarthmore Department of Anthropology and Sociology hosted an awesome book release party for The Big Rig.

April 28th

The Big Rig was quoted in a really interesting blog post about what self-driving trucks might mean for the cultural allure of trucking.  Check it out here.

April 27th

I was on the Hillbilly Express Radio Show talking about The Big Rig.  We're going to follow up with several episodes of an on-air book club for drivers!  Find out more here: http://www.hillbillyexpressradio.com/ 

March 31st

I was interviewed by Justin Stoltfus at Trucks.com about the potential for employee stock ownership plans to increase driver retention.  Read the article here.

March 14th

I discussed self-driving trucks, platooning and the coming revolution in truck productivity with Trucks.com's Jaclyn Trop. Read the article here.

February 12th

I was interviewed by FleetOwner Magazine about The Big Rig.  Read the article here.

January 21st

 

Supply Chain Digest quoted my take on companies using driver councils to increase retention.  Read the article here.

 

January 20th

 

I was quoted in the Washington Post about the potential for drivers councils in long-haul trucking.  Read the article here.

 

January 5th

 

Urban Truck Ports and local food logistics were discussed by 50 stakeholders at a workshop in Chicago.  Read more about the Urban Truck Port concept here and the meeting here.