Truck Drivers Wanted in Alaska
High wages to show up and work
That’s the big takeaway I got from talking to transportation leaders about key issues facing the industry. Labor and the economy were the two main challenges and recruiting drivers is a big deal. There’s not much I can do about the economy, so I thought I would try to help get the industry more drivers. At least twenty-one years old? Have a CDL? Drug free? Then show up and work. There is an enormous opportunity for great wages and benefits for qualified drivers.
We’ve got an exceptional magazine again this month, and in the Transportation special section is the discussion with industry leaders (starts on page 38). We talked for an hour and there wasn’t enough room for it all so I’ve included a bit of it here.
In addition to the economy and the dire shortage of truck drivers, another topic discussed was the recent crisis on the Dalton Highway, and its maintenance is at the top of the list of the Alaska Trucking Association’s Legislative Priorities.
When Harry McDonald, Terry Howard, Jimmy Doyle, and Aves Thompson showed up April 8 at the offices of Alaska Business Monthly the Dalton Highway had been closed due to flooding from overflow from the Sag River, which was quite compelling. The magnitude of the haul road shutdown is unfathomable from both the logistics nightmare it created and the sheer force of nature it displayed. The governor declared it a disaster.
Thompson brought up a very interesting point: A lot of people don’t know about the Dalton Highway. They don’t know where it is, or what it is, or how important it is. Here’s what he said about the Dalton Highway:
One of the other issues on our priority list was the maintenance of the Dalton Highway. And I think today is a perfect example of maintenance and the importance of the Dalton Highway. If you stop someone on the street tomorrow and say, ‘Where is the Dalton Highway?’ They would look at you with a blank stare—because they don’t know. There are a lot of people who should know that don’t know, they don’t know why it’s there, they don’t know what travels on that road.
We posted a three-minute video on our Facebook page that was taken by a driver going through that trouble—that flooded area up there—it took him more than an hour to get five miles. We got forty-five thousand views on our Facebook page. My daughter does a little bit of social media work and she sent me a text and said, ‘Hmmm, in the social media world we call this a success.’
We spent two hours with the Senate Transportation Committee two or three weeks ago [in March] talking about the Dalton Highway and what it means to the industry, what it means to the state, and what it means to the people in the state of Alaska. Then this [the flooding and closing of the Dalton Highway] just sort of drives that point home of how important it really is.
By April 8 it was necessary to fly fuel up to the North Slope to keep operations going and there were seven hundred to eight hundred loads backed up in Fairbanks. Facebook.com/AlaskaTruckingAssociation has photos and commentary along with the video posted April 7, which by press time in May had 165,489 views. So check that out and check out the June issue of Alaska Business Monthly. The team has put together another really great magazine, enjoy!
—Susan Harrington, Managing Editor
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.