As Yellow Goes Belly Up, Their Drivers Are Finding It Incredibly Challenging To Replace Their Careers

Vitpho /
Vitpho /

August 20th knocked employees for national trucking behemoth Yellow off their feet and into the jobless market. With many retirement-eligible, they have been left with no word about any severance package, and that means either looking for another job or accepting unemployment. The problem is unemployment is significantly less than they were making as truckers, and it doesn’t last that long.

The job prospects for many drives are slim. UPS, ABF Freight, and TForce are unionized companies that operate in specialized niches. While UPS is driven by consumer goods and their shipment, ABF and TForce both share a business model with Yello. Their less-than-truckload or LTL shipping made it reasonable for people to ship smaller orders and goods across the nation. Their locally minded business models mean more employees are home at the end of each day.

The problem is they are but a drop in the bucket of shipping across the US. Competition from truckload carriers who move full trailers of freight, often with multiple stops, are spending weeks in their rigs crisscrossing the country. The weeks at a time these drivers spend on the road lead companies to have 50-60 percent turnover on average, with some completely turning over their workforce yearly.

These long-haul drivers are put under increased pressure to make rapid deliveries and make time constraints that don’t work with the flow of traffic and the patterns of city living. Sleeping roadside, at truck stops, and occasionally hotels, many don’t see a shower as often as they would like either. Family can become incredibly difficult to keep, especially when you are new to a company and most susceptible to being sent to horrible locations.

Yellow got them home daily. No need to sleep in their cab or skip a shower. No need to miss a baseball game, doctor’s appointment, or other important thing. Turnover in their line of trucking was significantly lower at 18-20 percent. It means these already harder-to-source positions are now even harder to find as they rarely open up.

The salt of the earth in its truest form, these workers will take what they need to to keep their family fed and the lights on, but they aren’t thrilled by the prospects out there. Union officials claim they did everything they could to help them keep their jobs, including millions in concessions over the years. Yet they still folded as they wanted more, even after Trump gave them one hell of a COVID-related helping hand.

News of their demise spread, and while competitors have stepped up to take their place in shipments, they have not been rushing to buy up their trucks or to swipe up their drivers or other staff. From seasoned vets to new hires, nobody in Yellow has had an easy transition as they closed shop, and many are still left wondering what’s next.

Another big problem they have is the change of companies like Walmart. Now using a larger percentage of their rigs, they have cut down on costs significantly and shrunk the pool of potential opportunities by forcing many smaller companies to shutter after losing their contracts. This isn’t what they were hoping for, but ultimately, the closure of Yellow has thrown a massive monkey wrench in everything.

One area of opportunity for these seasoned vets is moving on to truck driving school. Many of these schools need instructors, and much like their lives with Yellow, it provides an opportunity to be home nightly. They may not be the most rewarding to work at, but many instructors report fair pay, good benefits, and anxious pupils. That certainly beats working for Amazon or dealing with the general public.