In my previous Swift Company Drivers post, I outlined how to further document your work activities to enhance your self protection from rouge or inept Swift terminal employees and management and their often made up "policies" that they use to try and make you quit if they don't like you for whatever reason(s) they may have. Always remember, You can be fired from any job at anytime anywhere in the U.S., An employer does not have to give you a reason. It is that simple and legal. BUT, don't let that statement intimidate you either. Just keep working within the law until they do fire you. If this happens to you then the question becomes; Do you qualify for unemployment benefits in your state? Generally, in most states, If you did not do anything "willfully" wrong or negligent to break any rules or written policies, and they fire you over your lack of performance or they don't give you a reason, then you should be able to collect the benefits that apply to you. And there may be certain laws that enable you to "sue" the employer for various reasons. Always consult a labor law attorney if you feel you may be getting close to being fired. Most labor law attorneys will listen to your circumstances before they try and *** any consultation fee. If your case is good then most will take your case on contingency. There may also be certain support groups that will assist you in legal matters. Now, with that said, I want to give new Company drivers and maybe a few used ones some helpful tips if I can.
First, Swift Company Driver Jobs and Terminal jobs (leaders) are all "performance driven". This means that the more you do or get done, the more money you make. So, as a driver; How much can you do? The answer to that is simple; Whatever safely fits within your DOT-FMCSA laws, guidelines and rules. THATS IT!, nothing else. Swift's only real interest in you is the CDL license that you posses, not you as a person, you will only be a number. This why there is such a high turnover, many of you had government sponsored training. It's a political play on jobs and it doesn't cost Swift much to train you. Swift wants you to use as much of that time as you and they can fit into those time frames, and they won't stop you from violating the parameters of those rules either, that is IF they have the freight to do it, often times they don't. Always be aware of that fact. There are times when freight is low and you will have to sit idle. It goes up and down frequently. And sitting idle or live loads/unloads ruins any plans you have on that well publicized Plus One program they keep talking about, more on that later in this post.
You will always hear them say that it is YOUR responsibility to watch your hours. They protect themselves with the Macro 10 you do every day. The other side of that is that Swift CANNOT tell you how to use those hours either. Swift can only "OFFER" you the loads and it is up to your discretion to accept or decline the load based on your availability. "YOU" control the license you have because in the eyes of the law, "YOU" are responsible for it. A drivers license in this country is a privilege and not a right. You have to obey all of the laws that pertain to it. When Swift offers you a load, It is your SOLE responsibility to do the appropriate calculations to determine if you can get it done lawfully and safely. And this is where it gets a little tricky.
The employees of Swift, from the dispatchers, Driver Managers, Planners, etc. are all on a set salary or hours for pay. In addition to that, the management competes with each other for extra money or productivity bonuses that are determined by how much work YOU do for them. This is why they give you that speech about how the Driver Leader will work for you if you work with them, (Your best bet is to just push them to do their job so you can do yours, NO FAVORITISM, you'll get burned.) Their plan is designed to push you to use up those driving hours you have and more if you dare. That might sound simple, except for one thing.
Swift gives the best and easiest loads to the Owner Operators first. Drop/Hook loads, Light Loads, Easy Access, long miles, etc. are all offered to the Owner/Operators first. When Owner/Operators keep declining loads then those loads are listed for the planners to give to Company Drivers, that is why they need you. Now, understand this, The dispatchers, driver managers and such will tell you that it is company "Policy" that you cannot decline a load that is given to you. BUT, you will not see that supposed policy "written" anywhere. The heavy loads, Loads with appointment times, Live Load and Unload, Night loads, Loads with a lot of time on them without T-Calls, etc. are all loads that make their way to Company Drivers. But again, Swift cannot "legally" make you accept a load. But please do not confuse my words either, If the load that is sent to you falls well within the guidelines of your available time, then you should accept it and do it. That is where all of "your" calculation abilities come in. Swift also waits until certain times of the day to release loads to Company Drivers. If you complete a load after 0800 then you will probably not be planned out again until 1900 or there about. Sometimes you get lucky if a planner has something that needs to go right away and you are nearby, other than that, you will wait. So if the plan they send wants you to pick up right away and you are almost out of hours, it is your call, but no sweat off their backs if you violate. Once you accept the load, IT'S ON YOU. I always decline those loads just to send them that message. Rushing a load will get you nothing but problems and traffic tickets, It's not worth it, SWIFT IS NOT WORTH IT!
Most loads are calculated by non-drivers using a general mathematical equation developed by a robotic train of thought. They take the number of "shortest route miles" and divide it by 50mph and the answer to that is the hours they think you can do the load in. Example: 1427 miles divided by 50mph is 28.54 hrs of drive time. But your truck can do 62 mph right? So if you actually drive that same amount of miles at 62 mph (which is the fastest the truck will go) then the amount of driving hours is reduced to 23.01 hrs. They will add 1 hour per day for fueling breaks and PTI's. They DO NOT calculate your personal breaks, they only calculate the 10 hour mandatory rest period. Then they work with the customer and what the customer needs and determine whether the load will go to the team drivers, Owner/Operators, or Company Drivers.
When the planner is going to assign a Company Driver load, they normally just take a quick look at the "total hours" you have available and if it fits the load, then they send it to you. Most of them are too lazy to look at the particulars of your hours like, how many hours you have already used that day, what time you started your book and days left in your week, you might be on your 7th day but you have 26 hrs left, The planner sends a load with 720 miles and delivers on your 9th day out without a 34 hour restart. It would be a violation for you to accept that load without a T-Call or Repower. You could try and deliver it early, but if it has an appointment time or the customer is closed, Then What? YOU are stuck with the responsibility of the load and make no mistake, They WILL give you a write up or Service Error and they won't think twice about it. It is NO sweat off of their backs.
And then your DM will use that to make you feel guilty and try to garner more control of you. The best thing for you to do with your hours is to stay "well within" the time frames so you don't violate. I always add more time for the Longer Route (interstates, faster roads), Fueling, Personal breaks during the drive, Scales, Hazmat, Appointment times, Projected detention, etc. You do NOT have to follow the directions on the fuel route. Just make sure you have enough fuel before you start the trip.
Most Swift employees do not have a clue of what you do in your day. It's called CORPORATE IGNORANCE They do not see the time you have to wait in line for fuel, or to scale a load that has rusted tandems that are stuck, or to wait in line to get a scale ticket, or to wait in line to buy some food, or to wait in line for a customer to get you loaded or unloaded, or to wait in line at the terminal for the slow dispatchers that are horse playing or eating or gossiping on the phone, or to wait for a minor repair, etc. A few of them are former drivers but they are quickly indoctrinated into the Swift Employee Fold that makes them attend daily meetings on their productivity and function. They are told not to think like drivers.
And always set your PTA for what works for you, DO NOT ALLOW YOUR DM OR PLANNERS TO SET YOUR PTA. They know they are not supposed to do it so don't let them. YOU DO IT!! The FMCSA rules allow you to rest ANYTIME YOU THINK YOU NEED TO, you do not need permission. If they need to T-Call or Repower the load then so be it, you cannot be held accountable.
Swift employees will always try and put anything and everything on you, Anytime you call in with a problem they quickly think of questions to ask you , Did you do this or Did you do that? DON'T ANSWER THEM, counter them with your own questions. They are trained to try and make you responsible, SO, what I do is the same thing to them. If a planner sends a load that I cannot fit in with my safeguards then I ask the planner questions in the Macro 9 when I decline the load. In the comment section I will ask if they looked at ALL of my hours or days. The planner might get mad and call your DM if they can, to try and intimidate you (CORPORATE ARROGANCE). LET THEM, they are not supervisors, they can only gig you if you fail on a load. Oh they might make you sit on that load for a few hours before they send another or they will send you another load that you will have to decline to make it look like you are declining loads for no reason. I just go along with it and sit idle, after 24 hrs you get free money (layover pay). I decline loads all of the time and they haven't fired me in almost five years. I still get 1800 to 2800 miles a week (regularly) sometimes more. ANY Swift company driver who says they get more or different miles than what I just printed is a lying sack of ***. Any future post on that saying different is probably a Planner trying to Glorify Swift. Its Bull, don't believe it. If the truck gets less than that over a few weeks, then THEY have to answer questions to their bosses about why the truck isn't moving.
The truth can be seen in the information you provide in your records, If I am documenting everything, then when and if they fire me, I have ammunition to use against them and they know it. I don't care about their feelings and I show that if I need to. They work in a building at a desk, I spend many hours keeping alert on the road with an expensive truck and cargo, MY RESPONSIBILITY COMES FIRST EVERYTIME.
Sometimes you can see the planners name on the text message they send, I will often put that name on the response I give them. They used to think you didn't know who they were and you couldn't name them, but you can now so USE IT. Planners are not supervisors, they just think they are. Most of you know how nasty the terminals and employees are when you have to go there. They are disgusting and just cause you added stress. They are short and dismissive with you and just try to move you along. Sure they are cordial when they talk to you, But don't confuse Swift Smiles with real professionalism and quality, they lack that sorely, Swift won't spend the money to train them and they won't hire college trained graduates . I guarantee you that it scares them when you question something they do to hinder you. Especially if you are at the terminal. NEVER be afraid to ask for the Terminal Manager if you don't agree with something. If a terminal employee barks at you THEN BARK RIGHT BACK, just don't use profanity. YOU are the one driving the truck and YOU are taking ALL of the risk and making the money for the company and for their paychecks, Make sure they know that and appreciate it. Tell them like it is directly, Don't be rude, just be direct and to the point. They always back off quickly. You should have the confidence and understanding that THEY are there to Support YOU in your job, not the other way around. But once again, you should be doing what you are paid to do also. That is why it is so important for you to study the FMCSA laws and the driver handbook.
Be careful with the "Plus One" program they currently have going. That program is only optimal for Owner/Operators who have choices on loads. They are sent three loads at a time to choose from. Where you are concerned, the planners change the P/U and Delivery times to match their mathematical equation of 50 mph. When you see that, always call in to find out the "actual" Times on the preplans/loads you are being offered, if they don't want to tell you, then just decline the load and put your reason in the note section of the macro 9. On the Macro 9 don't be afraid to put the times that YOU think you need. You can refer to part Â§ 395 of the FMCSA rules and regulations to determine what you can or should do on any load you are sent. ALL SWIFT EMPLOYEES MUST FOLLOW FMCSA RULES FIRST, there is NO other option for them or you. Even the driver handbook is second to the FMCSA, don't let anyone tell you different. Who would know the rules better? A Driver who lives them daily or a terminal desk jockey? Make your argument anytime you need to, don't back off of it.
Finally, You should always keep in your mind that Swift is only a job, IT IS NOT A FAMILY !! IT IS NOT A BROTHERHOOD!! There is NO union and no need for one, YOU have the law in your corner. Other drivers don't owe you anything. If one chooses to help you with something then that's OK, Otherwise, they have their own work to do. Call your DM if you need something. Make them do what they are paid to do. Ask them the questions you need answers on and keep on them to answer you.
Swift is a corporation that operates on a Cost/Benefit basis for profit. The owner is a Billionaire-Are you?? If you are a cost to them more than a benefit to them then they will harass you and intimidate you and decrease your miles until you quit or they have enough to fire you without having to pay the unemployment or worry about a lawsuit. How you deal with that is your choice. The bottom line is that you can only do what the law says you can do and YOU control that. If you like taking the risk of violating your hours and you do it without any good reason then when they fire you for it, you won't have a leg to stand on and they will not feel sorry for you and give you any breaks. If you are excuse oriented like they are then you will always lose. DO NOT TRUST ANY SWIFT EMPLOYEES FOR ANYTHING, you can be friendly and professional -JUST DON'T TRUST THEM...EVER! Protect your license and don't get traffic tickets because they want to rush you. Traffic Tickets are expensive, especially if you hire an attorney to keep them off your record. Follow the LAW on your loads and NOT A SWIFT FLUNKY! I have other posts on this site that might help you as well. I welcome you comments or questions good or bad if you can deal with the answer, good or bad.
Review about: Swift Transportation Customer Care.