Trucker Unions And Labor Relations: Addressing The Elephant In The Room


The evolution of advanced technologies has completely revolutionized fleet management in recent years. With tools such as telematics, that come with advanced GPS tracking capabilities, fleet optimization has never been more efficient. 

The advantages of telematics insights are not just limited to asset tracking. The information can also be leveraged for more productive labor management and, ultimately, to improve labor relations. 

Unions, however, have often opposed the use of vehicle telematics as a fleet management tool. The underlying reason behind the resistance is the concern for the driver’s privacy. They argue that the technology is “Big Brother” as it is always spying on them. 

Dealing with unions can be quite challenging. So before you engage with them, it’s important to understand why they exist and how your goals are not always mutually exclusive.

Understanding Labor Unions

The role of labor unions is to bargain on behalf of their members against unfair working conditions. Many drivers believe that GPS tracking is an intrusion into their privacy. They fear that technology is being used only as a means of reprimanding.

The other reason why unions oppose GPS tracking is that they feel such tools show management don’t trust their drivers. It lessens the credibility of drivers in the eyes of society as well.  

For instance, in a union telematics dispute in the UK, drivers questioned the accuracy and reliability of the technology. The argument was eventually resolved when the company implemented measures to ensure the system was accurately recording and measuring data.

How To Position Telematics To Gain Acceptance?

Here are some discussion points that can present a positive case for telematics in fleet management.

Rewards Rather Than Reprimands

Rather than hammering the guys who aren’t performing, technology can be used to reward the drivers who are doing a great job. This will boost their morale and help them accept telematics as their friend.

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It’s often wise to alert and educate employees about the fact that they may be monitored. This way, employees will be less apt to take unauthorized breaks, leave work early, visit inappropriate web sites, or otherwise engage in unacceptable behavior if they know such action could be or is, tracked.

Protection Against False Claims

Suppose a customer complains that they never got their delivery, or a random citizen complains that one of your vehicles was crossing the speed limit. Without a GPS tracking system, how would you refute such claims?

Thanks to video telematics, you’ll now have hard evidence to prove that your driver was not at fault. You can even show the exact speed of the vehicle. This way, you can have your employees back in case of misunderstandings or fraudulent claims. 

Improve Driver Safety

Both unions and business owners would agree that the safety of the drivers should be a top priority for any organization. Unsafe driving habits such as speeding, harsh acceleration, harsh braking, cornering, and stop sign violations can be attributed to most of the accidents. 

Telematics systems can log data relating to bad driving habits so that managers can use this information to address unsafe practices on an individual basis. The tool can also be used to help train drivers and develop active fleet safety initiatives. 

If you are new to telematics, you can discover more here.

Simplify Driver’s Routine

Telematics systems do a great deal to cut out the unnecessary hassle for drivers. The most significant area in which telematics helps drivers is routing. 

Telematics systems combine real-time data with GPS navigation technology, enabling planners to optimize routes based on environmental and scheduling changes, and instantly communicate these changes to their drivers. This dynamic approach enables drivers to stay focused on the job in hand.

The availability of routing and scheduling information in the office also enables them to keep in touch with customers, notifying them of any schedule changes or delays. This should help prevent drivers from bearing the brunt of angry customers.

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Assigning Right Vehicle For The Right Job

Telematics systems have an intelligent navigation system that can take into consideration a host of parameters such as sales territory, pick up orders, vehicle characteristics, and capacity as well as on-ground information. 

The system allocates vehicles, route plans, and deliveries in the most optimal way possible, resulting in ensuring that drivers are assigned the most appropriate jobs.

Preventive Maintenance

Telematics systems can ensure your vehicle’s longevity by providing preventative maintenance with alerts for service needs like low battery, coolant temperature, check engine, inspection reminders, and other such factors. Alerts will notify drivers with early warning signs of trouble, whether it’s an overheating engine, low fluids, or declining oil-life.

Hence, preventive maintenance can save drivers from the extra downtime that a bigger malfunction or repair job can cause in the future.

Anonymized GPS Tracking

If the unions are still not satisfied, another way of encouraging their support is by introducing anonymized GPS tracking. This method of monitoring won’t reveal the identities of the drivers. 

A unique driver ID consisting of random numbers will be assigned to each driver. This way, you will get all the information you need without the drivers having to compromise on their privacy.

In Conclusion

Employees are the most valuable assets for any organization. The success of the company will depend on how they work. Hence, it’s essential to address their concerns and grievances to maintain a pleasant and productive work environment.

Whether you are operating in a unionized environment or not, the way you treat your employees, your adaptability to changing circumstances, and your flexibility will ultimately determine your success. Also, where there is a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), you should abide by its terms.

Transparency and communication are the keys to good labor relations. Unions want to make sure that their drivers are being treated fairly. To maintain transparency with them, you can offer them union-only access to GPS tracking information. This will keep both parties happy and satisfied.

If your organization uses GPS technology in the right way, there are innumerable benefits you can reap from the technology in the form of enhanced efficiency and increased return on investment.

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