Exploitation, Part I

Before graduating from the Fontana, California Schneider Training Academy we were to have one final 2 hour presentation. It was to be a presentation against unions and the unionization of truck drivers. In length it rivaled the presentation against sexual harassment and was considerably longer than any presentation of driving technique and safety on the road. 

A young bearded guy wearing a Schneider polo entered the classroom. He had a big smile on his face.

"Welcome to Schneider! We're so glad you have joined the Schneider family! You are now a part of something really special! How is everyone doing today?!"

There was no answer.

He tried it again but louder. "How is everyone doing today?!"

"I guess its early and you guys have been in training for a long time. I know its tough. I'm not a driver, but I know its tough."

He became serious.

"Now, I want to get right to the point here. This is very important. You are going to be approached out on the road. A man will come to you and make you promises. He will want you to sign something. It will all appear to be in your best interests, to help you. This man works for a trucker's union. If you sign something, anything, it will mean that money comes out of your paycheck. Do not sign. I repeat, do not sign anything. When you sign something I can no longer help you. If you sign something they will take your money."

So this fat bearded clown was the company shill, I thought. Part hype man and part shill.

"Come to me if you are approached. Call me. We can discuss it. But do not sign anything. I am here to help you and to protect you. We do not need unions here at Schneider. We have an open door policy. We have respect and communication. With respect and communication a union can add nothing. A union can only cost you money. A union can do you no good."

He became cheerful again and said he had a video for us to watch.

"This video begins with an address from our CEO. I love this address. You are going to love this address. It gets me so excited and pumped up! Just to see and listen to our CEO fires me up and this address you're about to hear is just awesome!"

A pudgy middle aged man with a receding hairline appeared on the screen. He wore a sport jacket with an open collar and began to speak in a monotone voice about the values of respect and communication at Schneider. He went on to speak of the company's greatness, and it was then that I became distracted by his eyes which were slightly off from the center of the screen. They moved from right to left as he droned on and I realized he was reading off a teleprompter. I started to doze off. 

"Man that was great! How great was that!"

The company shill had awoken me.

I listened for awhile longer to his pro-Schneider and anti-union talk and I began to hate him. He had the sincere enthusiasm of a house nigger. He had betrayed each of us drivers for what he believed was a seat at the master's table. It was the worst sort of deficiency of character, and one he hoped to cover over to himself by getting us to agree with him and not join the union. I had only contempt for him.

"Does anyone have any questions?" asked the shill.

I raised my hand.

"How many times the average driver's salary is our CEO's annual income? Is this multiple increasing or decreasing?"

"I'm not sure I understand the question." The shill looked confused and uncertain. The others in the classroom turned around to look at me.

"How many times the average driver's salary is the CEO's salary? Over the last ten years is this multiple increasing or decreasing or staying steady? Its a question of income inequality."

"Oh, I think I understand your question. And that's a great question," the shill smiled, "And I can look that up for you. Come and see me after the presentation." He seemed to have regained his professional confidence. For a moment perhaps it had been in the balance.

But I did not approach him when the presentation ended and the shill made no attempt to stop me as I left the classroom. I hoped that the others had realized as I did, that whatever this bearded company clown shill was for, you, as a driver, had to be against. The message had not been wasted. Respect and communication be damned, the union was our only hope.


  1. On August 5, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a final rule that requires a public company to disclose the ratio of the compensation of its chief executive officer (CEO) to the median compensation of its employees. The new rule, mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, provides companies with flexibility in calculating this pay ratio, and helps inform shareholders when voting on “say on pay.”

    “The Commission adopted a carefully calibrated pay ratio disclosure rule that carries out a statutory mandate,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “The rule provides companies with substantial flexibility in determining the pay ratio, while remaining true to the statutory requirements.”

    The new rule will provide shareholders with information they can use to evaluate a CEO’s compensation, and will require disclosure of the pay ratio in registration statements, proxy and information statements, and annual reports that call for executive compensation disclosure. Companies will be required to provide disclosure of their pay ratios for their first fiscal year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

  2. I imagine all the truckers will be foaming at the mouth for Schneider's 2017 proxy statement, just to have a chance to view Schneider's approach to the calculation and see just how "flexible" the rule really is.

  3. The guy who does the work on my classic off road vehicles used to be a long haul trucker. He got out because all the new rules will make it very difficult to make the kind of money you used to be able to make as a long haul trucker. The technology they are putting in the trucks these days is going to ruin it for everyone.


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