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Yellow Corp. trucks sit idle at a company facility Monday after the Teamsters union said the company has shut down operations. The closing will cost 30,000 jobs, including the jobs of 22,000 Teamsters union members.
Since Sunday, Mark Roper, a truck driver for 32 years, has been out of work along with 30,000 of his colleagues at now defunct transport company Yellow.
Roper, who turns 59 in October, said he is not ready to retire and has already started looking for jobs elsewhere. But he had that kind of trucking job with one of Yellow’s regional carriers — the kind that let him see his family every night — are hard to find in the trucking business, far less common than the jobs that keep drivers on the road for weeks at a time moving full trailers of cargo.
Roper said the company has not told him about the resignation. He has worked for 28 years at Holland Freight, which Yellow bought in 2005.
Teamsters Local 728
Mark Roper lost the truck driver position he had held for 28 years at one of the companies owned by Yellow Corp. after it shut down this week.
“I figure my resignation is the unemployment I just applied for,” he told CNN. “But they don’t tell us anything.”
Roper has already started looking for jobs at other unionized trucking companies, including part-time work at UPS and driving jobs at ABF Freight and TForce. But there are some companies he would rather not apply to.
The difference is in the particular sector of the trucking industry. Yellow, ABF and TForce are all what is known as LTL, or less-than-truckload. They handle shipments of pallet-sized cargo through a network of terminals. As a result, the drivers are on specific routes during the day, and most return home each night, as Roper has.
But that’s only part of the industry.
Trucks, which move full trailers of goods, constitute a sector at least five times the size of The LTL portion of the business. Almost all companies in the trucking sector is hiring, albeit due to annual driver turnover that averages between 55% and 60% and can reach as high as 100%, according to Satish Jindel, a trucking industry consultantt.
This is partly because truck drivers are often on the road for weeks at a time, moving a trailer full of cargo from point A to point B, then picking up the next load at a nearby point C to go to a point D, and on and on. Drivers will typically sleep in beds in the back of their cabs and shower – when they can – at truck stops.
In contrast, smaller-than-truckload carriers have relatively low driver turnover, averaging 18% to 20%, according to Jindel, which means that these jobs, which are already fewer than truckload jobs, are open far less often.
The grueling life away from home is why Roper prefers to stay away from that segment of the industry, though he said he’ll take the job there if it comes to it.
“I don’t want to be away from my family. Family means more to me than anything else, especially recently. I lost my mother and stepfather to Covid and my father earlier this year,” he said.
Truck traffic has generally decreased in the past year. In 2021, with limited opportunities for travel and social gatherings, Americans spent money on goods, not services, to help fill the void. And virtually every item in a home was on a truck at some point before it was purchased.
But with opportunities for social experiences opening up again, the purchase of goods to be moved by truck is slowed down, affects the trucking industry. LTL shipments fell 17% between 2021 and 2022 and another 5% in the first quarter compared with the first quarter a year earlier, according to Tom Nightingale, CEO of AFS Logistics, a third-party logistics company that places about $11 billion worth of freight. annually with various trucking companies on behalf of shippers.
Yellow did not respond to CNN’s questions about what it plans to do for its workers or when it might file for bankruptcy. The company has blamed its problems on the inability to enter into a new employment agreement with the Teamsters union, which represented 22,000 workers at Yellow, including Roper. The union says the problem was mismanagement by Yellow’s company executives and that the union had given billions of dollars in concessions to Yellow in an effort to keep the company alive.
Roper’s trucking job, which he said paid him about $78,000 to $80,000 a year in recent years, helped him raise a family of six children, ranging in age from a 37-year-old disabled son to a 12-year-old son who is still at home . He has an 18-year-old daughter who will start college later this month. He said he’s already gotten positive response from some of the LTL companies he’s applied to, so he’s hopeful.
But if that doesn’t work out, he said, he will consider looking at jobs in the trucking sector.
“I’m the type of person who will do anything I have to do for my family,” he said.