Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Depraved Indifference
December 25, 2009 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Arrow Trucking ceases operations, strands as many as 1400 drivers on Christmas Eve all over the country. In as cutthroat an industry as there is, other companies found it in their hearts to assist those left out in the cold.
posted by pjern (60 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
some companies don't give a shit what happens to their employees, do they? - heartless, stupid, improvident, whatever, these bastards don't deserve to stay in business if that's the best they can do for their drivers
posted by pyramid termite at 5:28 PM on December 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


ya gotta work hard to pull off that type of timing...
posted by HuronBob at 5:31 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


One lender, Daimler Financial Services, which has financed Arrow’s Freightliner truck purchases, told drivers to return trucks to Freightliner facilities to get a bus ticket home.

That's less heartless than stranding the drivers, but still a pretty raw deal.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:32 PM on December 25, 2009


That's less heartless than stranding the drivers, but still a pretty raw deal

Yes, but consider the plight of a driver who is 500 miles away from a designated location, with insufficient fuel to get there, and no means to purchase the fuel. That's the kind of thing that sucks.
posted by pjern at 5:35 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dick move for sure, shafting their drivers over the holidays. What a joke.

(cues up Big Black's "The Power of Independent Trucking")
posted by porn in the woods at 5:35 PM on December 25, 2009


I wonder what all those trucks and cargo that the drivers were left with would go for on the black market, parted out or whatever? Dick move? Not considering the circumstances.
posted by Balisong at 5:43 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


What trailer of flat screen TV's?
posted by pjern at 5:45 PM on December 25, 2009 [31 favorites]


When a businessman steals the livelihood from his workers, it's capitalism.

When a worker steals a $300 TV from the businessman, it's a felony.
posted by Avenger at 5:48 PM on December 25, 2009 [118 favorites]


...Merry Christmas!! :D
posted by Avenger at 5:49 PM on December 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


I like that they didn't go out of business or file for bankruptcy either, they just "suspended operations" meaning nobody can file for unemployment either.

That's fucked-up, right there.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:51 PM on December 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


And Schneider National gives them rides home. Which doesn't surprise me a bit. I met Don Schneider in 2001, he was a client. I have never met a nicer, smarter, more down-to-earth business executive. Ever. That man is awesome and the people who work for him are top notch. Every time you see that orange semi-trailer, just know that there are some great folks behind that brand.
posted by jeanmari at 6:04 PM on December 25, 2009 [20 favorites]


Sorry, here's the link to the story about Schneider giving the truckers rides home for the holidays.
posted by jeanmari at 6:06 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


You haul 16 tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.
posted by bwg at 6:06 PM on December 25, 2009 [14 favorites]


That's less heartless than stranding the drivers, but still a pretty raw deal.

I don't think this means that the drivers are forfeiting their trucks to the dealers for the price of a bus ticket. The next sentence in the article indicates that the trucks were leased, so I imagine it's just that a dealer is a safe place to store the truck temporarily.
posted by dammitjim at 6:13 PM on December 25, 2009


Well, I hope any Arrow drivers drop there trailer at the nearest parking lot. At least they could get further with just the tractor. Nice of Schneider to try and help out.
posted by PhillC at 6:15 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like that they didn't go out of business or file for bankruptcy either, they just "suspended operations" meaning nobody can file for unemployment either.

I'm pretty sure you can still get unemployment if your employer just stops paying you without 'officially' laying you off.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on December 25, 2009


Cold.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:19 PM on December 25, 2009


FPP editorializing?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:24 PM on December 25, 2009


The facebook page linked in one of the articles seems to be doing a fantastic job in rescuing the stranded drivers.
posted by _dario at 6:28 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you can find a way to spin this story in a 'neutral' manner, ZenMasterThis, I can get you a job with AIG...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2009 [25 favorites]


delmoi: The article claims that in fact they can't file for unemployment because it's a suspension of operations. Surprised me too.
posted by jscott at 6:31 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


That facebook group is amazing.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:32 PM on December 25, 2009


If you can find a way to spin this story in a 'neutral' manner, ZenMasterThis, I can get you a job with AIG...

I think you can do it, but you'll need to work/write for the Onion.

Executive Concerned, Dismayed at Fate of 1400 Trucks
The CEO of Arrow Trucks choked back tears today, recounting his concern for the 1400 trucks in use by his company. "So close to the holidays," he said, "and these poor trucks could be anywhere... parked sideways in hospital parking lots, abandoned in fields, or driven up to or through the garage of one of my many homes."
posted by jscott at 6:36 PM on December 25, 2009 [18 favorites]


FPP editorializing?

Only the "Depraved Indifference" post title could be interpreted as editorializing, I think. And in this case, I say, no problem. That's my two cents.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:39 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


The next sentence in the article indicates that the trucks were leased, so I imagine it's just that a dealer is a safe place to store the truck temporarily.

I got the impression that Freightliner is concerned about the credit they're extending to Arrow for the leases, and is basically calling their collateral home. Pretty interesting way to go about it.

Shitty deal for those drivers, for sure.
posted by disclaimer at 6:44 PM on December 25, 2009


This is the kind of thing the unions, before they turned into mini-bosses, grew out of.
posted by QIbHom at 6:51 PM on December 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Arrow Trucks = Heartless Zombie Motherfuckers.
posted by Issithe at 6:58 PM on December 25, 2009


This song was supposed to be a parody, not an anthem.
posted by JDHarper at 6:59 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got the impression that Freightliner is concerned about the credit they're extending to Arrow for the leases, and is basically calling their collateral home. Pretty interesting way to go about it.

Shitty deal for those drivers, for sure.


Exactly. Daimler should have offered to reimburse the drivers for fuel, and then paid them for their time delivering the trucks.

Bad deal for whoever owns the cargo as well.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:59 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I'm pretty sure you can still get unemployment if your employer just stops paying you without 'officially' laying you off.

It may depend on the state, but in the states I've worked in the company has to either shut down entirely or be available to confirm that any employee filing for unemployment is qualified to -- the ex-employee only qualifies for unemployment comp if they were recently laid off rather than fired, and employed by the company they claimed employed them, and so on. Darn that trail of accountability.

Even if Arrow wants to do the right thing, they're unlikely to lay everybody off if they're trying to secure loans -- it's going to be impossible if they've got to tell their creditors that since they last talked, Arrow's now got to go and hire thousands of people. The workers are screwed, badly, but management is in a bind if their current shenanigans are an attempt to do right by everybody (including their workers) and resume operations as quickly as possible and not permanently strand their customers and staff.
posted by ardgedee at 7:01 PM on December 25, 2009


Daimler Financial Services appears to this reader to be the the creditor that forced Arrow to close just before Christmas... can anybody confirm or deny this?


Follow the money!
posted by MikeWarot at 7:03 PM on December 25, 2009


So glad I remembered (in El Paso, in the middle of a delivery, after 30 hours awake, swapping insecticide for tile, legal log says I'm asleep the last six hours) that I knew how to type. That was the worst six months of my life.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:03 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


And lemme say right now -- It sure doesn't look like Arrow's trying to do right by everybody. So I'm not defending them in this.
posted by ardgedee at 7:06 PM on December 25, 2009


This makes me so sick I could puke.

I know there is a God in heaven that sees these shenanigans, and when payback time comes it's gonna be hell.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:11 PM on December 25, 2009


I like that they didn't go out of business or file for bankruptcy either, they just "suspended operations" meaning nobody can file for unemployment either.

I don't know how this works in other states. But in New York, the rule of thumb is that you have to be out of work through no fault of your own. A form I recently sent to Albany focused on the magical phrase "lack of work." There was no mention of whether my employer had ceased to exist or came up with some bogus shutdown as a pretext to screw me. Those issues were irrelevant in the eyes of the Department of Labor. They wanted to know two things: are you not working? And is this due to a lack of work? If I could answer "yes" to those questions, I was entitled to benefits.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:20 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been decades since this happened and I don't really remember the details but one of the lessons I learned working for startups back in the 80's is that companies are much more likely to go belly up at the end of the year. I'm not a businessman so I can't think of any good reasons for this. It's unlikely that most companies fiscal year is the same as the calendar year so I don't think that it's a direct consequence of tax law. Maybe it's just easier to lay employees off when everybody is already gone for the holidays?
posted by rdr at 7:23 PM on December 25, 2009


Maybe it's just easier to lay employees off when everybody is already gone for the holidays?

It isn't like long haul truck drivers hang around the office much.
posted by QIbHom at 7:34 PM on December 25, 2009


For what it's worth, in Arkansas, if you file for unemployment and claim to be eligible, you get it unless the employer contests it within a certain timeframe. If there's nobody there to contest your claim, you're in like Flynn, no matter why the employer isn't paying you anymore.
posted by wierdo at 8:38 PM on December 25, 2009


God announced today that He is ceasing operations, stranding as many as 14,000 churchgoers at Christmas Eve services around the nation. In the cutthroat field of deity worship, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even a handful of Atheists found it in their hearts to assist those left without any pie in the sky.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 PM on December 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


[Bunch of comments removed. It'd be really fucking great not to spend the rest of Christmas dealing with an unnecessary religious/personality shitstorm, but take it to Metatalk if you really need to do it.]
posted by cortex at 9:07 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


It is my understanding that the situation of suspended operations can't last very long. Creditors will be lining up at courthouses everywhere on Monday and the only way to consolidate the mess and manage it will be through bankruptcy. If the company doesn't respond to the court or file voluntarily a judge can force it.
Trucking is a low margin business, requiring a careful balance of cash. It is possible that one of their lines of credit got cut or some other adverse event happened which left the company unable to operate do to lack of funds. The credit line thing has happened to a number of companies over the last year. Most of what is being deemed as heartless is likely just an inability of Arrow to act to do lack of having any money. You can't just let your employees sign credit card slips all over the place if you don't have any actual money to pay the bills, that kind of stuff might put you in jail.
posted by humanfont at 9:09 PM on December 25, 2009


[It'd be really fucking great not to spend the rest of Christmas dealing with an unnecessary religious/personality shitstorm, but take it to Metatalk if you really need to do it.]

indeed.

posted by jessamyn at 9:11 PM on December 25, 2009


So glad to see the teamwork on getting these drivers home for the holidays. Yay!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:13 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't this be a stupid thing to do from a business perspective? It seems like you'd end up abandoning a whole lot of valuable equipment all over the country. Of course, I suppose it could happen regardless, if they just ran completely out of money and credit, which could only happen if they were run by total idiots.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:14 PM on December 25, 2009


Mitrovarr, I don't want to defend Arrow completely here, as they certainly could have done a better job of winding down operations in an orderly fashion that took care of their people -- and I don't see how a bankruptcy judge would fault them for doing so. But business credit has been tight and the trucking business particularly hard hit by this recession. Trucking companies operate like airlines with basically the key to their operation being vehicles and they have probably been falling further and further behind on the aggregate Daimler loans. They would then be caught in a vicious circle of needing to continue spending money to make money and it would look to them like the best way to do this was to keep as many vehicles as they could and bet on an uptick, possibly the Christmas buying season. At the same time they likely have contracts to fulfill and it would seem folly to disappoint paying customers. Of course if they were total idiots, what would that make the people who lent total idiots money?

That said, I agree with the opening comment by pyramid termite.
posted by dhartung at 10:24 PM on December 25, 2009


dhartung: I understand what you are saying, but it seems like it should be a general principle that if your business requires $X to shut down in an orderly fashion that doesn't throw away lots of major assets, when you hit $X, you SHUT DOWN. What Arrow appears to have done is hit $X, passed it and continued until it hit $0 - which is pure denial at work that has left all of their employees holding the bag, as it were. What is going to happen now is that assets will be wasted, people will sue, and in general things will be worse off in general than if Arrow shut things down in an orderly fashion when it could afford to do so. There really should be a law, or something.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:33 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


There ought to be a law. Managers and executives think business is all fun and games until the employees have to be fired. But no lessons are ever learned because none of those managers or executives could have known things would come to that, no sir.
posted by halonine at 11:18 PM on December 25, 2009


I'm kind of wondering about the fate of the freight on those trucks.

A well insured truckload of televisions is very different animal compared to a piece of irreplacable equipment someone be shipping across the country. Imagining of my stuff stranded in an unsecured trailer somewhere off the PA turnpike is a scary proposition.

In the event of a loss, duking it out with a freight insurer for the next 6 months is not a positive outcome either.
posted by freq at 12:27 AM on December 26, 2009


@freq: Don't know about US insurance companies but in the UK, it's usual for the load to only be insured while the driver is present.

Crazy behaviour by Daimler and Arrow - they should have worked together to complete all deliveries on the road before calling the trucks 'home'.

Thank heavens for people like Don Schneider.
posted by ceedee at 1:55 AM on December 26, 2009


What Arrow appears to have done is hit $X, passed it and continued until it hit $0

A lot of businesses operate for years with massive negative bank balances, ans some come very close to running out of money on a routine basis. You're essentially saying every company should shut down whenever things get a bit tight.
posted by cillit bang at 2:44 AM on December 26, 2009


i think most long haul truckers are independent contractors, paid by the mile, as opposed to employees paid for their time. that really messes up the unemployment issue for them.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:59 AM on December 26, 2009


No, that applies to owner-operators but not to company drivers. They are all paid by the mile, but a company driver is an employee like any other.
posted by azpenguin at 8:49 AM on December 26, 2009


Hole Lee 'Ruck. Anyone know if this is affecting Arrow Canada? Their website is still up but that doesn't mean much I suppose. It'll be a pretty big hit to the forestry industry if Arrow's chip trucks stop running.

The move by Schneider was genius PR, especially considering it doesn't cost them anything, though something that would have happened anyways in a more organic manner.
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 AM on December 26, 2009


Is it so fucking hard to do the right thing? It's bad enough screwing your workers over because of your lack of management competence, but doing it on Christmas Eve is almost maniacally evil.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:37 AM on December 26, 2009


Three words: limited liability companies.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:52 AM on December 26, 2009


Having met many folks at Schneider, I can tell you that it wasn't just a PR move. Trucking and truckers is everything to them. Private company, run well, lots of charity work you never hear much about, kind and proud employees. Never saw don in a tie... He was always in a denim shirt, could talk about semi maintenance one minute and supply chain logistics the next. They offered to take us out to the training lot to drive a semi and I'm sorry I never had time to do it. When I left the project, they gave each of us an awesome steel semi truck for kids. I can easily see Schneider drivers reaching out to Arrow drivers at truck stops, and Schneider eating the extra fuel/mileage needed to get them to their house. Just one more reason to admire a great company.
posted by jeanmari at 4:05 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


if your business requires $X to shut down in an orderly fashion that doesn't throw away lots of major assets, when you hit $X, you SHUT DOWN.

Although as a practical matter, I don't know that the employees would be any better off. Maybe they would due to the screwy "suspended operations is not laid off" thing, but in general, laid off is laid off. If they need to pay severance, they'll just lay you off earlier.
posted by smackfu at 6:44 PM on December 26, 2009


There was a guy at a truck stop Christmas day in Illinois bitching about his paycheck bouncing and being out of work on Christmas day. It makes more sense now seeing this post. As he said to the counter people, "Merry frickin' Christmas, right?"
posted by Gucky at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2009


And Schneider National gives them rides home. Which doesn't surprise me a bit. I met Don Schneider in 2001, he was a client. I have never met a nicer, smarter, more down-to-earth business executive. Ever. That man is awesome and the people who work for him are top notch. Every time you see that orange semi-trailer, just know that there are some great folks behind that brand.

Dad Swan drove for Schneider International for the last dozen or so years before he retired. They do seem to be a pretty good organization, with all kinds of driver perks and incentives designed to motivate their employees: you can be "Driver of the Month" (as my father was a number of times) and earn safety bonuses, get award chevrons to sew on your Schneider jacket, and there's an annual Driver Appreciation Dinner at which many awards were handed out, etc. Dad has a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis and he was very grateful to them for not only employing him but for making accomodations for his disability and making it possible for him to make a much larger salary than he'd ever made in his life before. And those toy trucks are awesome. Dad's given one to every little boy of his acquaintance. Some of the models make horn-blowing and truck engine noises. Dad also bought some "My Garndpa Drives for Schneiders" t-shirts to give to his grandchildren.

But... you had to stand up to them sometimes, or they'd work you to death. When Dad first started there he hardly ever got home for the weekends, because he'd get back to the truckyard only to be sent out again. At one point he hadn't been home at all for close to two months. He was so glad to be working after being unemployed due to his disability that he would not say no. My mother was fit to be tied, and one day she decided it was time she took matters in her own hands. She telephoned the dispatcher herself and spoke her mind. After that Dad made it home every weekend for the next six months.

Then there was the matter of Dad being assigned run that conflicted with time he'd booked off, as happened the time Dad requested a day's holiday to attend my college graduation. Dad refused the run. Or they'd declare you couldn't take any holidays in the last six months of the year. One year Dad's arthritis was so out of control he told them he was going on vacation regardless of whether he had a job to come back to. They made an exception for him. And Dad heard one story about a van load of new drivers scheduled to leave from Ontario to the training camp in the States on Christmas Day. These new hires refused to go, so the van departure was rescheduled.

Generally, Schneiders has to treat its truckers well, or they'll leave. They have a hard time keeping themselves staffed. They don't hire anyone with a criminal record or a less than spotless driver's abstract, which reduces their hiring pool considerably. And they do have a high turnover rate. The lifestyle that comes with the job sucks. You're away from home most of the time. You can't get decent food half the time because there's only room to park the truck in certain places and you're not supposed to leave it. And you sleep in the truck, even when it's 40 below outside. So their good drivers have some much-needed latitude when it comes to standing up for themselves.
posted by orange swan at 3:31 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Tulsa World has a collection of articles from 12/23 to present on the Arrow Trucking situation, and links to some of the lawsuits by creditors.
posted by Snerd at 6:22 AM on January 3, 2010


« Older After all the muzak, Christmas Past - a quality Ch...  |  Christmas on Earth... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments