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In a hectic profession, remembering to pay homage to a great journalist, person: Dorothy Cox

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Despite the hectic pace of a newsroom on deadline, there were many occasions over the years that she laughed so hard she would lose her breath and we’d all rush to her desk, first to make sure she was going to be able to breathe again and second to see what in the world was so funny it had set her off, giving us a moment of respite from our work. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

We at The Trucker collaborate with the Truckload Carriers Association to publish Truckload Authority, the official publication of the association that represents the interests of the truckload industry.

The magazine is published every two months, and the week of publication is quite intense as we simultaneously work on the next issue of The Trucker.

The week of June 10 was one of those weeks, as we constantly communicated back and forth with the fine folks at TCA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, via text, phone and e-mail.

As I sat at my desk and listened to the lively — and never tense despite the clock winding down toward the deadline for transmitting the publication to the printer — banter back and forth among our editorial and production staff, I was reminded that I’d never paid proper homage to one of the greatest trucking journalists in the business.

It was her infectious laughter that became the catalyst for this column.

DOROTHY COX ….journalist extraordinaire

I first met Dorothy Cox when I went to work at the Arkansas Democrat in the early 1970s.

She eventually left the Democrat and moved across downtown to the Arkansas Gazette.

Going to work for the Gazette — which was considered one of the best newspapers in the country and which had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for its pro-integration stance in the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis the year before — was the dream of every journalist   in Arkansas.

Dorothy was still working at the Gazette on October 19, 1991, when the Democrat bought the Gazette and its employees were ordered under guard to remove personal property and leave the building post haste.

By that time, the Gazette, which had been owned by the well-respected Patterson family, had been sold to the national media company Gannett, which had immense assets with which to fight the Democrat but received criticism for bringing in out-of-town reporters and staff and losing the local feel of the paper. The Gazette, nicknamed the “Old Gray Lady,” became flashier, but critics complained that the paper had lost the respect of its hometown readership and ultimately the war with the Democrat.

I left the daily newspaper business in Little Rock in 1983 and lost track of many acquaintances, including Dorothy, a feisty lady who was photographed on one occasion puffing on a big cigar.

Then came one day in 2004 when I began the interview process that led me to my current position.

Then-publisher Laura Stacks was showing me around the office and when we walked into the editorial department, there was Dorothy pounding away on one of those old-fashioned colorful iMacs.

Between November 2004 and late last year when she went part-time, Dorothy was our assistant editor, finally retiring full time April 30 of this year.

Fortunately for us, our management team has given us the privilege of calling on Dorothy for occasions such as press day for Truckload Authority, so she was in the office June 13-14.

It wasn’t long after she arrived, something funny happened and the room was filled with Dorothy’s infectious laughter.

There were occasions over the years that she laughed so hard she would lose her breath and we’d all rush to her desk, first to make sure she was going to be able to breath again and second to see what in the world was so funny it had set her off.

Dorothy’s knowledge of the industry allowed her to talk with truck drivers about anything and everything, and she was always patient with callers, who were just looking for someone to listen about their needs.

Her writing and editing skills were impeccable.

And I’ve never seen anyone to could conduct and interview and literally type every word the interviewee said in copy so clean that it could have almost been printed verbatim.

When I tried to do the same, it came out some like this…”skgd (Smith) said, adging (adding) he sirht (might) kange (change) hid numd (mind).”

Two of her passions were the fight against human trafficking and the desire to see more and more women both behind the wheel and in corporate offices.

She was a dedicated Christian lady whose values were always evident in her mannerism and her loyalty.

We will miss Dorothy.

To Dorothy, we will say what she wrote at the end of her Around the Bend column each issue.

Be safe and God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!

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That is big!

 

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The Nation

Diesel prices all but stagnant nationwide, less than 2-cent shift anywhere

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The average price for a gallon of diesel nationwide fell by 0.7 cents for the week ending July 22, to currently stand at $3.044 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The lack of movement in diesel prices continues a pattern that has been going on for the past month. On June 24, diesel was at 3.042, with changes of less than 1.5 cents every week in between.

Though tiny, the movement in diesel prices was nearly unanimous this past week, down in all but one region of the country.  That one exception was the Rocky Mountain region, where diesel rose 0.3 cents, to $2.978. Year-to-date, diesel prices are lower in every region, with the Rocky Mountain region again being the standout, having the greatest difference, 39.1 cents from this time last year.

California made it a clean sweep for lower diesel prices year-to-date with a drop of 1.3 cents this past week, to $3.939, still by far the highest in the country, but 0.4 cents below this time last year.

Along the rest of the West Coast, diesel dropped 1.1 cents to $3.198, bringing the overall West Coast average to $3.611 per gallon.

The average along the East Coast is currently $3.072, with prices highest in the Central Atlantic, where diesel is going for $3.259 after a 1.3-cent drop. Diesel is $3.122 in New England following a decrease of 0.9 cents over the past week, while in the Lower Atlantic region diesel slipped by 0.4 cents to stand at $2.937 per gallon.

That’s still slightly better than the Midwest, where diesel is going for $2.948 per gallon after a drop of 0.8 cents. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast, the low-price leader in diesel, fell by the same 0.1 cent it gained the week before to stand at $2.804.

On Monday, increasing tensions between Iran and Western countries failed to produce a sharp reaction in the crude oil markets. Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 98 cents, or 1.57%, to settle at $63.45 a barrel. U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude rose 59 cents, or 1.06%, to settle at $56.22 a barrel.

Click here for a complete list of average prices by region for the past three weeks.

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The Nation

DOL opinion letter: Time in sleeper berth does not count as compensable time

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The Department of Labor says the time a truck driver spends in the sleeper berth is not compensable time. Pictured in the Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft sleeper berth. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday said it had determined that time spent in the sleeper berth by professional truck drivers while otherwise relieved from duty does not count as compensable time.

The DOL issued the determination in a written opinion letter by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter.

The American Trucking Associations lauded the opinion.

“ATA welcomes Monday’s opinion letter from DOL Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton that concluded time spent by a commercial driver in the sleeper berth does not count as compensable hours under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unless the driver is actually performing work or on call,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This opinion, which is consistent with decades-old DOL regulations, the weight of judicial authority, and the long understanding of the trucking industry, clears up confusion created by two recent court decisions that called the compensability of sleeper berth time into question.

Significantly, this opinion letter provides new guidance, the DOL said.

Under prior guidance, the DOL said WHD interpreted the relevant regulations to mean that while sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished, only up to eight hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

“WHD has now concluded that this interpretation is unnecessarily burdensome for employers and instead adopts a straightforward reading of the plain language of the applicable regulation, under which the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable,” the opinion letter said. “There may be circumstances, however, where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes. For example, a driver who is required to remain on call or do paperwork in the sleeping berth may be unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable hours worked.”

The ATA commended Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella and Stanton for adopting a straightforward, plain-language reading of the law, rather than the burdensome alternative interpretation embraced by those outlier decisions.

“ATA also commends the department for making guidance like this available through opinion letters, which provide an opportunity for stakeholders to better understand their compliance obligations prospectively, rather than settling such matters only after the fact, through costly and wasteful litigation,” Spear said.

 

 

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