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Wisconsin student wins first prize in Acuity Insurance NTDAW essay contest

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Sara Mears, shown here with her Great Uncle Roland “Rollie” Koenig, was the first prize winner in the Acuity Insurance trucking essay and video contest. (Courtesy: ACUITY INSURANCE)

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 8-14, 2019, is when America takes the time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs.

To commemorate the event, Acuity Insurance sponsored an essay and video contest for high school students.

“Through the stories submitted, contestants displayed their knowledge of the important issues facing the industry while thanking the drivers in their lives for everything they do,” said Steve Maliborski, Senior Product Analyst and member of Acuity’s trucking specialist team.

A total of six winners were named, including:

  • First prize, $2,500: Sara Mears, Appleton, Wisconsin
  • Second prize, $1,500: Gibeon Robbins, Coalville, Utah
  • Third prize, $1,000: Ashlyn Smith, Marion, Utah
  • Honorable mention, $150: Gabrielle Robbins, Coalville, Utah
  • Honorable mention, $150: Jimmy Fields, Orland Park, Illinois
  • Honorable mention, $150: Karmyn Jarzemski, De Soto, Wisconsin

Mears’ essay revolved around her great-uncle Roland “Rollie” Koenig and his longtime association with Korth Transport of Reedsburg, Wisconsin.

“Many people don’t think about how things get into their hands,” Mears started her essay. “However, there is a very important job for this to happen. Truck drivers from all over work hard every day to get products to people that need them. One of them is My Great Uncle Rollie who has delivered milk all over the Midwest in his bright blue Korth Transport truck for over 20 years.”

She related how growing up, Koenig had looked out his window as a truck drove past his house every day and quickly at the age of 12 yearned to be a truck driver.

Later on, Koenig fulfilled his dreams and started driving and as of this year he has been driving for a total of 22 years, all with the same company and with no accidents.

Koenig loves his trucking job, Mears said.

“He always thinks of others first,” she wrote. “After a few years off (to run the family farm), Rollie went back to Korth and started driving again. He went back to Korth Transfer because they offered him flexible hours with five full weeks off for vacation. He loves how he gets Fridays and Sundays off, and occasionally free Saturdays. They also allow him to stay close to his home, driving only in the Midwest in order for him to be in his own bed every night. Another reason why Rollie loves Korth is because he knew the original owners, Charles and Marlene Korth, his whole life since they attended the same church as Rollie. He says that the founding owners (now deceased) were good, nice people and hired friendly drivers and office employees throughout all of Wisconsin. Korth has been around for over 85 years and the current Korth management still carries on this caring philosophy.”

Mears addressed the importance of finding drivers.

“It is hard for some companies to find truck drivers, but transporting goods is crucial in today’s growing economy,” she wrote. “Without these drivers, it would be hard to get products from one place to another.”

Her Great Uncle Rollie still loves to drive his big blue Korth milk truck, she wrote.

He said, “If I didn’t like the job I have, I would have retired a long time ago.”

My Great Uncle Rollie transports dairy products so that people like us can enjoy things like

ice cream at Culver’s, she wrote. “The next time you drink a glass of cold refreshing milk or have a tasty ice cream cone, remember the journey the ingredients have been through and the people like my Great Uncle Rollie that helped to get it into your hands.”

The contest was promoted on the Acuity Insurance website and was open to high school students in the United States.

Essays were required to address a topic of interest and importance to the trucking industry.

To read all the essays, click here. 

 

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The Nation

Lane Departures: Why would California lawmakers saddle trucking with the ABC test?

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Well, he said he’d do it.

If you look elsewhere on this website, you’ll see a story I did about a week ago about AB5, a bill passed by the California Senate on September 10 into the waiting arms of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had long telegraphed he was looking forward to signing it.

Yesterday, he did it. And come the new year, trucking is going to have to live with it.

AB5 — the full name is the “Employees and Independent Contractors” bill — is ostensibly intended to prevent employers from exploiting workers and skirting expenses by relying on “independent contractors” to make their businesses run instead of hiring full-fledged employees, who come with all kinds of nasty baggage like guaranteed minimum wages, overtime and payroll taxes, mandatory breaks, insurance and other horrific profit reducers.

The bill got off the ground in the wake of a court case last year in which a delivery company called Dynamex was determined to have improperly reclassified its workers as independent contractors in order to save money.  In making the decision, the court applied what is known as the ABC test, which presumes all workers should be classified as employees unless they meet three criteria.

Like the court case, the bill, which will codify the ABC test across the state, seems to have been at least in spirit aimed at companies like Dynamex that are part of that there so-called “gig economy” all the young folks are so hopped up about. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are almost always mentioned as Public Enemies 1A and 1B of supposed independent contractor charlatans.

The problem with AB5, its critics say, is it proposes to perform an appendectomy with a chainsaw, ripping into industries that have long-established business models that extensively use independent contractors to the satisfaction of all involved.

A great big example would be trucking, because it appears the ABC test would prevent carriers from contracting with owner-operators or smaller fleets in California. I’ll let you imagine the consequences if that’s true.

If you’ve read the article, or your planning to read the article, I’d like to apologize in advance because as I’ve been learning about this AB5 business, I have some lingering questions that I could not answer. I have calls out to a couple of experts on the legal and logistical nuances. Unfortunately, experts don’t observe journalistic deadlines.

But then, I figured, this story is going to be around a while, so we can keep building on what we know. I may have answers to some of these questions by the time you read this. Or maybe you will be able to provide some of the answers. I mean, you don’t need to have a title or a degree or be part of a think tank to know a thing or two.

My first question is this: They didn’t pull this ABC test out of thin air. A majority of states already use the test in some manner on matters of job status. California’s application of ABC is based on Massachusetts’ broad, strict use of the test. So, hasn’t trucking had to contend with this standard there and in in other states already? I haven’t heard reports of empty store shelves in Massachusetts. Is there some simple workaround already in existence just waiting for cooler heads to prevail?

Second, from what I gather, ABC has had its critics for as long as it’s existed. Is it just the sheer size of California’s economy that makes this case so important or somehow different?

I’m going to go way out on a limb and say “probably.” Last year, California’s economy outgrew that of Great Britain. If it were an independent country, California would have the fifth-largest economy in the world. And what happens in California rarely stays in California. The state has a major influence on the rest of the nation.

California’s economy is closing in on $3 trillion a year. Real estate, finance, the entertainment industry and that nest of tech behemoths in Silicon Valley are responsible for big chunks of that.

And let’s not forget agriculture. California ranches and farms reaped $50 billion in receipts in 2017. That’s a lot of food, a lot of truckloads.

California also has some of the nation’s largest seaports. The Port of Long Beach alone sees about $200 billion in cargo a year, with 11,000 truckloads leaving the port each day. And most of what doesn’t go by truck from there eventually winds up on a truck somewhere inland.

Add it all up, and trucking is a huge player in the California economic machine. Why would lawmakers want to strip its gears with this law? Some lawmakers are even on record saying they are worried about what this could do to the industry. Then why are they doing it?

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, is not some gung-ho rookie lawmaker. She’s in her third term, and she already has made a national name for herself as a champion of the working class with several pieces of legislation she has supported.

AB5 could fit into that collection quite nicely. But it isn’t a trophy she needs in a hurry. She won her last two reelection campaigns by about a 3-1 margin.

And she’s also been around enough that she surely understands that despite its best intentions, the broad-stroke, one-size-fits-all approach AB5 takes will do more harm than good to many industries, including trucking.

In fact, she’s as much as said so. Gonzalez has already indicated that once the bill becomes law, she’d be open to making amendments and granting exemptions.

So why wait? The bill already grants exemptions to real estate, to doctors and dentists. Even newspaper delivery people got a last-minute, one-year exemption.

The California Trucking Association and the Western States Trucking Association pushed for an exemption. Dozens of truck drivers testified in Sacramento. And you have to think state legislators are at least vaguely aware of what goes on in their own districts.

So, they could grasp the importance of the guy who throws a newspaper in their driveway from a passing car at 4 a.m., but not of the people who deliver, like, everything everywhere all the time?

We all know how long fixing bad legislation can take. Even if they put it on the “fast track,” how much damage will occur before trucking can get an exemption?

I did hear back from one legal expert on the matter. Greg Feary, president and managing partner at Scopelitus, Garvin, Light, Hansen and Feary LLC, said there are a couple of cases in Ninth Circuit Court that could spell relief for the trucking industry. Even so, the legal system can move almost as slowly as the legislative system. He estimates California truckers are going to have to live with AB5 for at least a year.

Questions abound. I’m not looking forward to some of the answers.

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The Nation

Trucking submarine style in Texas

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Texas is getting hit hard with flooding.  This takes it to new levels!


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The Nation

Flooding in Texas – That cab’s gonna be a bit damp!

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KHOU reporter Melissa Correa happened to be on scene and captured this video.  Another motorist grabbed a hammer and rope and saved the drivers life.

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