Shipping companies facing truck-driver shortage

A lot of jobs that pay $50,000 a year -- and often rising into six figures -- are going untaken and creating a real problem for the U.S. economy going forward.

A new kind of congestion at ports, mixed with still ongoing issues, is a bad omen for holiday shipping. Bay Area wide, statewide and nationwide, there are not nearly enough truckers.   

Charlie Ramorino founded his Hayward trucking company, Roadstar, when Eisenhower was president.

"I've been in the business 57 years, this is the worst time I've ever had to find drivers," said Ramorino.

Right now, the American Trucking Association projects that as many as 50,000 driver jobs will be unfilled by the end of this year. has 160 pages of open trucker positions, tens of thousands of jobs, with many offering signing bonuses.

"We've done all of those different type of online things where you search resumes.  We've gone through hiring agencies and we've gone through temp agencies," said Randy Devecchi, whose family owns the small Berkeley Warehouse Trucking Company.

Drivers must pass batteries of written and driving tests as well as regular physicals. The average trucker is now age 47. Many older drivers are retiring. It's almost impossible to find replacements as cargo volumes skyrocket.

"The young kids are more interested in the internet business.  This doesn't seem to appeal to them," Ramorino.

Some of the nation's most overworked and underpaid truck drivers work at the nation's ports. Many are leaving for jobs with trucking companies and many are leaving the business altogether.

"We've done everything possible to try and keep drivers and they're just fed up with the port," said Bill Aboudi, owner of AB Trucking at the port.  Aboudi has one truck that serves as a constant reminder.

"The truck has been parked for about four months," said Aboudi. Charlie Ramorino has hired several former port drivers who were sick of congestion, long lines and poor treatment.

"We provide all the benefits.  We keep up with the wage, the common wage that everybody else is paying," said Ramorino.

And woe be it to anyone who fails or refuses a mandatory random drug test.

"There's no option other than firing somebody that's tested positive for alcohol, drugs,  marijuana or whatever; a DUI or anything," said Devecchi.

All of this is why the trucking industry is so interested in driverless, robotic trucks being road tested now.    

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