U.S. truck fleet looks for foreign drivers to solve labor shortage
Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about traffic news.
The shortage of workers willing to drive trucks in the United States has become so severe that some fleet managers are petitioning for more foreign operators to enter the country.
Truck driving It has always been a highly mobile and labor-scarce job.But since the outbreak, the shortage has increased PandemicBob Costello, chief economist of the American Trucking Association, said that with the closure of training schools and the withdrawal of some drivers, the stricter drug and alcohol testing system resulted in the dismissal of about 60,000 people.
He said the shortage is “the worst ever.”
Certain smaller freight companies are now pleading with the US government to relax or expedite visa approvals to ease tensions Supply network.
Petroleum Marketing Group, a fuel distributor for more than 1,300 gas stations on the east coast of the United States, and its vice president of operations, André LeBlanc, stated that he has “on the road to war”, warning the governor, senators and the United States In the transportation and labor sectors, the lack of drivers can lead to fuel shortages and higher gas station prices.
He stated that officials can alleviate this situation by speeding up the EB-3 permanent work visa approval process, which allows employers to introduce “work that does not have qualified workers in the United States.” The annual quota for the visa program is 40,000.
“I don’t think it will get better, but we have a solution, and I’m trying to get someone to listen to me,” LeBron said.
Andrew Owens, chairman of the Oregon Trucking Association’s board of directors, said the idea of ??turning to foreign drivers is “accelerating.” He is organizing about 12 freight companies to meet with federal lawmakers through ATA to “defend our case, just to expedite EB-3.”
Part of their purpose is to try to get truck drivers into the “Schedule A” list of the U.S. Department of Labor. Jose Gomez-Urquiza, CEO of Visa Solutions, said that this designation identifies occupations that are considered to face a shortage of qualified talent and can shorten the EB-3 process by 10-12 months, which usually takes about 18 months. Workers in the U.S. transportation industry.
Visa Solutions said its customer list has doubled in recent months.
Gomez-Urquiza said another option is to hire seasonal truck drivers with H-2B visas, which allow foreign workers to take up temporary jobs that are difficult to fill in the country.
Anda Malescu, the managing partner of Malescu Law, a Miami business and immigration law firm, said Washington could ease the pressure on the supply chain by exempting truck drivers from the 60,000 visa quota per year.The U.S. government has increased the upper limit of H-2B visas 22,000 This fiscal year.
LeBron speculated that officials thought the idea of ??bringing in foreign workers was unpleasant. A government employee asked him: “When we have so many unemployed, do you really want me to ask to try to bring in people from outside the United States?”, he recalled.
Malescu said that trucking companies are most interested in drivers in Mexico and Canada because the commercial driving licenses of these countries are recognized in the United States. She said some people are also looking for drivers from English-speaking South Africa.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement that it “is actively participating in increasing the availability of qualified long-distance truck drivers.” The U.S. Department of Labor did not respond to a request for comment.
LeBlanc said the Virginia-based petroleum marketing group only needs 26 of the 74 drivers. “We were recruiting there, and we didn’t get any bites, or even a bite. One of our wholesalers held a grand job fair at the state fair. They had barbecues, and they had everything. Two people showed up. ,”He said.
Additional report by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York