In February of 2010, 2nd generation truck driver Heather Rose wrote to the Ellen Voie, the President of the non-profit Women in Trucking organization, to clarify exactly what and who they represented. In the original posting to this site which was had to be split into 3 individual posts due to its length there were nearly 200 comments in total to the remarks made by Ellen Voie. Because litigation had been implied in the past by Ms. Voie to conceal criticism of her conduct, a second email was delivered to receive implicit permission to publish the questions on this site. The email exchange to get permission for publication of the questions was the following:
2/25/10 Dear Ms. Voie: I appreciate you answering my questions. I would be lying if I said you have persuaded me. I am left with more questions about your experience level with Women’s issues. You have left me to conclude that you are not proactive in searching for Women involved in the CRST case because I know there are many at your fingertips you have made little effort to interview. You seem to be only satisfied with a management perspective of what is occurring. You state that you had to earn respect working in a male dominated industry but you fail to see that earning respect among women truckers when you are not one but aspire to represent them puts you in a precarious position. I assume you know my questions will be made public. You state that you want transparency but you put a disclaimer in your responses so I cannot publish your answers for the public. This does not constitute transparency. Many of your answers seem more inclined toward yourself rather than Women truckers. It has become common knowledge that it was your organization that removed or deleted evidence of misconduct. I did not bring up the issue that your qualifications have come into question because of the handling of the cyber-stalking but you seemed to want to include this information. I feel that you missed the opportunity to understand that if you cannot control your organizational message forum and you have not experienced first-hand what it means to pick up a load, manage a logbook, dock a trailer, find suitable parking in addition to being continually dismissive of issues, you seem nothing more than a female corporate apologist. You do admit to incidences to conceal and/or find fault with others who question you and I also find that you do not seem to be prepared to assert yourself on behalf of Women truckers who require better representation than they are getting, which is very little. I will make the questions you answered public. I am offering you the opportunity to give permission for your answers to be made public, if you are 100% confident that you stand by your responses. Otherwise, I will make a disclaimer to say what I gleaned from your responses and allow others to provide supporting information to the contrary. Sincerely, Heather Rose
The response from Ellen Voie, President of the Women In Trucking Non-Profit Organization was the following:
2/25/10 Ms. Rose, I was not aware that you were asking me questions for publication purposes. Feel free to use my responses with the agreement that there will not be any alteration or editing. You may use them as written and without edits. Please explain to me what you are referring to when you state that I removed “evidence of misconduct.” Please provide evidence that I have mishandled a cyberstalker. These are claims that are not substantiated. You claim that I am accountable for the WIT message forum, but there are people lying and slandering on sites which hide their identity. If there is one thing you can do to assist, it would be to tell me what you want in regard to what happened on the forum in the past. Why is this still an issue? I am not aware of any CRST coverup, if you have evidence to the contrary, please provide proof. You claim that I admit to incidences to conceal and/or find fault with others who question me, but this is not true. You are making assumptions about me. Stick to facts that you can prove. In regard to your assertion that I do not understand what it’s like to pick up a load, manage a logbook, dock a trailer, find suitable parking” you are wrong. I accompanied my former husband on the road extensively. We strapped our son in the bunk in his baby seat and I traveled with him on many trips over 20 years. We owned three trucks and I drove them (not under a load). I also owned a consulting business for 18 years and audited log books, kept compliance records, completed compliance paperwork and more. I spent a lot of time at truck stops, in the truck, at shippers, etc. I have been honest about not having a CDL and have not misrepresented my background. However, my role as an association manager means that I report to the population we represent. Only 20% of our members are drivers, and many of those are men. The greater part of my job is for those who are in the industry, not just drivers. That’s what the board of directors is for, to provide the insight into the industry. Now I would like you to answer some questions. Why don’t these websites say who is the owner/administrator? Facebook: “REAL Women Truckers” Website: “REAL Women In Trucking” Twitter: @WomenTruckers Why do you support slander and libel on your sites? Why do you feel that you must police our association? If you don’t support our mission, don’t join. You have your own association called Real Women in Trucking or Real Women Truckers. Why are our activities your concern? Why do you not hold OOIDA and other driver associations to the same level? We are not a driver association, but OOIDA is. There are women in trucking who do not drive. There are women in this industry who sell, fix, dispatch, recruit and lead companies. We represent all of them. Have you talked to any of our members to get insight on WHY they appreciate our efforts? Have you taken the time to find members who have been helped by our association? Why do you want to hurt these people who have joined and are benefiting from our services by continually questioning our activities and making false assumptions about who we are and who we represent? Ellen Voie CAE President/CEO Women In Trucking, Inc. Ellen@womenintrucking.org
That was our permission to post the answers to Heather’s questions. It also helped us to better understand the murky rehearsed dialogue that never quite clarified the WIT organization. It seemed less of a suspicion at that moment that Women truckers were for WIT promotional materials and at least it was now clear that Ellen Voie did not see WIT as being a driver’s organization. The questions written by Heather Rose and Answered by Ellen Voie are cut and pasted below. They are on the topics of the CRST Sex Harassment Case, the Trucker Buddy Pedophile Issue, the private investigator that Ellen Voie consulted with to look into my background (Trucker Desiree) which later made it’s way to Twitter and other issues that implied an overall lack of authenticity to operate ethically on behalf of the female driving population that do not have corporate backing.
There was 30-45 minutes of interview interaction and I was NOT told that the producer’s only focus was on the CRST case. She took a few seconds of the entire interview out of context. I have talked to the executives at CRST about the case and have tried to locate any woman who was involved in the case. I am not aware of anyone who was sexually harassed at CRST, but if you know of any individuals I would be interested in hearing what they have so say. I had to tell the interviewer that I had only heard the carrier’s side because that’s the truth. You might want to understand the rest of the story regarding CRST. Are you aware of the letters sent to every female driver at CRST that told them they might have money due them IF they could provide support for the harassment case? Did any one of them contact the company prior to the lawsuit? Did any one of them utilize the anti harassment services provided by the carrier? Do you personally know of any woman who was harassed at CRST who had suffered because of a lack of concern on the part of the carrier? If I could talk to a woman who was harassed I could verify the facts myself. I am not implying that there were no women who suffered any harassment, but I do not have any evidence to support this. The reason the lawsuit was thrown out was, according to the judge, was because, “the EEOC, among other things, acted unreasonably by suing CRST without conducting a proper investigation.” Heather, making assumptions about CRST without any driver verification is not accurate. Again, if you can identify one woman who suffered sexual harassment at CRST I would like to verify these allegations so I have both sides of the situation. That being said, I am well aware of the harassment in the trucking industry and am greatly concerned about it. That is one of our priorities at Women In Trucking. I would like to see all of us work toward making changes instead of constantly attacking those who are working hard to find solutions. Calling people names on social networking sites is a form of bullying and creates an image of an industry that attacks its own members. We could create a better environment if we used our energy for positive change instead of devouring our advocates. If you and your partners are truly concerned about this industry, you would allow me and our association to work on making changes and support our efforts. Heather, do you truly believe the allegations that accuse us of “covering up” rape or harassment? When you want something clarified, feel free to contact me or my board of directors. The personal attacks have gone too far and show a lack of maturity. I have been in leadership roles in this industry for over 30 years. If anyone thought that I was not qualified to represent women in trucking, I would not have gotten the support that I have. These personal attacks have been disturbing to so many professionals who have offered their support and understanding, even to the point of airing a satellite radio segment to denigrate these visible attackers. I am overwhelmed by the professionals who have reached out to me with encouragement and sincerity. If some one does not support our mission, that’s fine, but why continue to lie and slander me and undermine our efforts? Here are my responses to your questions.
Video in Question of Ellen Voie Speaking on Women Truckers and the CRST Sex Harassment Class Action Cases:
1. What do you consider to be your role in the trucking industry and why do you feel you are qualified to fill that role? I have spent my entire career as an advocate for drivers and their families. When I was married and co-owner of a small fleet, I was very active in Families of Truckers Support Group and I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the Diverse Identities of Women Married to Professional drivers. I earned my diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management and started as Assistant Traffic Manager at a steel fabricating plant. I have a history of working for driver’s issues and have been involved in national and state legislation for nearly 20 years. I helped write the WI driver’s handbook to include information on sharing the road with trucks. In my position at Trucker Buddy, I used grant money to influence parents and teachers in safe driving practices around tractor-trailers. I started “Trucker’s Pride Day” in central Wisconsin to honor drivers, and I even had the Governor proclaim “Truck Driver Appreciation Day” in Wisconsin. I have used my bachelor’s degree in Journalism to write about issues facing drivers, including dozens of letters to the editor of Wisconsin newspapers on behalf of the driving population. Now, my role is to be an advocate for all drivers, with the focus on women’s issues. I have served on ATA, SLPMC and WI Motor Carrier Boards as well as the DOT Advisory committee. I even attended CDL school just to understand the experience. Here is my biography: Ellen Voie
2. What are the aspirations, you have for yourself, within the trucking industry? Our mission (my mission) is to encourage women to look at careers in the trucking industry, not just as drivers, but as technical roles, safety positions, HR, recruiting, dispatching, and corporate leadership. We represent ALL members of the trucking industry, NOT JUST DRIVERS. Along with that, our goals is to remove obstacles that might keep women from succeeding. We are educating, mentoring, networking, interacting and assisting women who join our association, as well as those women who are already in the industry. Finally, we are celebrating the success of our members and highlighting the accomplishments of those who have quietly served.
3. If you could change only two things in the trucking industry, what would they be? First, I would like to see this industry work together to create change, not spend energy trying to undermine each other’s efforts. Secondly, I would like to see a more female friendly environment for all women in the industry.
4. Do you consider yourself to be an advocate for ALL women in the industry? My goal is to represent all segments and to try to understand the changes that need to take place to provide a safe, healthy environment for all drivers, not just women.
5. What is your vision for women within the trucking industry? A better, safer environment that doesn’t make assumptions about anyone based on their gender.
6. Do you believe that allegations of sexual harassment should be handled any differently in the trucking industry than in other industries? Sexual harassment should be handled immediately and appropriately regardless of the environment. There are specific challenges that this industry faces that others don’t and that is regarding driver training. That is why I am working on best practices white paper for carriers to use.
7. At what point did you become concerned with women being able to attain high-profile positions of power in the boardrooms of the trucking industry? In 1979 when I earned my diploma in Traffic & Transportation Management and was the only female traffic manager around. I endured a great deal of harassment when I worked in the steel fabricating plant to supervise the loading at the dock. I deflected it by standing firm and changing their behavior through interaction. As a traffic manager before deregulation, carriers used the same tariff rates and had to differentiate themselves on service. I was offered everything from drugs to dates with professional ball players. I threw the sales reps out. Heather, when I was 19 years old and walked through the plant, the welders constantly whistled, yelled and made negative comments about everything from my clothes to the way I walked. I told them that they were wimps who only used wire feed welders and then I showed them that I knew how to weld with a rod welder. I had to earn their respect. They never gave me a hard time again. I didn’t stand for it. I have spent my entire career in this industry. I had to prove that I was worthy of respect.
8. Do you agree with the ATA and its constituents (employers of truck drivers) that driving a 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer is unskilled labor and if so why? No, I believe it should be classified as skilled labor.
9. Do you feel that having written a book about your experiences with a tractor-trailer driving school which you attended, qualifies you as an authority on the conditions women face in OTR driver training situations? Not at all. I have never said that my experience at truck driving school qualifies me for anything other than understanding what it is like to attend driver training academy. The book is called “What to expect when attending truck driving school.”
10. Would you support an industry wide standardized driver training curriculum? Yes, I support PTDI training standards and was trained within these guidelines. In my book I explain to potential drivers how to choose a school so that they don’t get scammed and not trained appropriately.
11. Do you, your organization, or anyone on your board, profit from the recruitment of women into driver training programs? NO, there is no financial incentive to recruit women drivers into any program or carrier. One board member owns a driver recruiting service where she earns a living but this is unrelated to Women In Trucking.
12. What kind of message do you believe it sends, to have a link to a dating site for women interested in dating truck drivers, which is run by a Director of WIT and also advocates the recruitment of women into the trucking industry? I am not aware of Women In Trucking linking or supporting a trucker dating site, please send me the reference. As far as a director having a recruiting site, it is only one of many recruiting sites that are members of the association. Feel free to contact Marge Bailey to discuss your concerns. Our board members are volunteers who represent various companies.
13. As an advocate for women in trucking, have you ever taken it upon yourself, beyond what you may have been told at a corporate management level, to investigate the training culture of the industry that you and your organization advocate recruiting women into? Yes, that is why I went through driver training at Tri-C. I wanted to experience it myself. Also, I worked at the driver training facility at Schneider National where my role was driver retention. I worked with drivers at numerous Schneider facilities during my role there and I spent countless hours talking to drivers. I also work with NAPFTDS and CVTA to ensure that driver training facilities are legitimate and adequate. Next week I am speaking at NAPFTDS’ conference to educate the school executives on how to accommodate the driver and his or her family’s needs. If you are concerned that there are driver mills out there, so am I. They need to be closed. However, if potential drivers do not do their due diligence and investigate a potential school, these facilities will continue to exist. We all want them to shut down. We need to reach potential drivers before they sign a contract.
14. Are you aware of the amount of money that “corporate driver training mills” are receiving from the government to provide training, under the premise of job creation? Yes, it is due to the government’s goal to create jobs. I am aware of it. Whether I agree with it or not is another issue.
15. Are you aware that the Mega-corporations, who offer entry-level training, are using trainees as low paid labor in team driver operations? Please elaborate on the carriers who do this and how they are forcing drivers to work for them.
16. Are you aware of and can you explain, the extremely high rate of turnover in these “driver training mills” where most students do not finish training or having completed training, do not continue to pursue employment within the trucking industry? We work hard to reach out to potential drivers and help them choose legitimate training opportunities so that they receive adequate training. That is an important part of our mission.
17. Colleen Morse, the Mother of the child from the “Trucker Buddy’ incident stated on a website called fairness.com (See Link: Fairness.com post by Colleen Morse) that you responded to her that she was “over-reacting to the e-mails”, Have you had any training to work with trauma victims? (regarding the trucker buddy pedophile issue that occurred while Ms. Voie was Executive Director) I am not qualified to work with trauma victims. Colleen Morse did not have a child in the Trucker Buddy program, she was never involved in the Trucker Buddy program and I have never spoken to her. She claimed in an email that one of the Trucker Buddy drivers acted inappropriately with her son, but she was not in the program and she violated every policy that Trucker Buddy had in place to ensure the safety of the children. However, based on her allegations I contacted the driver and immediately removed him from the program. You can verify that with the driver or any Trucker Buddy executive. I suggest you do so.
22. In your recent article in Transport Topics Online you seemed to back track on your “Eye on Harassment” what changed? Please explain what you are asking me in regard to the article. It was about leadership.
23. You have an impression in the recent Transport Topics Article that some women are perpetual victims. Are you aware that many women are coming from domestic violence and/or broken marriages, some having barely escaped with their lives, might take offense at that statement? The article wasn’t about women who ARE victims and it was not about drivers. It specifically states that this is about women leaders who take the victim role instead of trying to move forward into leadership positions. Here is the paragraph I believe you are referring to. “Often, the resistance women leaders encounter is from those who see themselves as victims — not just men, but other women as well. They feel “picked on” by co-workers, the boss or the entire company, and instead of viewing the situation as a challenge, they blame others and refuse to accept any responsibility. Feeling powerless, they try to build themselves up by tearing down those whose positive vision they envy.” Heather, this is not about blaming people who are, in reality, victims, and it is not about the driver population. It is about allowing others to keep from succeeding because we won’t accept the challenges ourselves. What I find interesting about this article is that so many executives sent me messages about how they could relate to the article because they had to move beyond those who want to tear them down and bring them to their level. If you go back and read the entire article about leading from a position of strength, it should be clearer. It was not intended to disregard real victims of any harassment, this is about “those who see themselves as victims and blame others instead of accepting responsibility for their situation.” The article was directed at senior level management and not about drivers. That’s why it appeared in Transport Topics, which is not a driver publication.
24. Have you consulted with law firms and/or a private investigator such as www.compassllc.org with the intent of investigating the backgrounds of those who may voice questions concerning the motives and methods used by yourself, your organization or those involved in its day-to-day operation? No. I had lunch with some friends who were concerned about the character attacks on me and one, a private investigator, took it upon himself to do some research into public records. I never hired anyone or asked anyone to investigate anyone. I did not use the information he found in public records.
25. In the “Bully in the Workplace” Video you seem to cast aspersions on the moral constitution of women who claim to have been abused by their trainers, labeling them as gold diggers, have you personally spoken with any of the women involved with the CRST case? I would appreciate having a conversation with a sexual harassment victim from the CRST case. Please have them contact me. I have never labeled them as gold diggers, ever. Heather, you need to get the whole story here and ask these women how they were contacted and by whom. If you can find someone to give me their story, I would truly appreciate it.
26. Are you aware that your postings on Twitter, concerning the dismissal of the CRST sexual harassment law suit, due to gross mishandling on the part of the EEOC, appears to some, as gloating? No.
27. Are you aware of any appeals that have been filed or any settlements that have been agreed upon, in the CRST Sexual Harassment case? Yes.
28. Why, if advised by legal counsel, not to appear on radio programs discussing Workplace Bullying, did you felt free to comment on the CRST Sexual Harassment Law Suit? First, I have never been advised by any legal counsel to not appear on a radio program. What you are referring to is when I told Donna Smith that I was not ready to participate in the radio show because I was working on anti-harassment policies with EEOC and legal counsel and was not prepared to discuss the process in public.
29. YRC, Ohio Pitt, CRST all have recent EEOC claims against them but are coincidently linked to WIT. Are you aware that it appears your organization is merely to ease the impact of litigation not to help Women overcome obstacles in the trucking industry as your mission statement indicates? First, there were no individual claims against YRC. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-5-09.cfm This was a compliance effort and the EEOC included Women In Trucking in the compliance activities before we were even aware of the action. There was NO complaint from a driver involved in this compliance, it was an action agreed upon by both groups to reach mutual goals. This was a positive action, Heather, and I have talked to both the EEOC and YRC about the process. Again, this did not involve any driver. Second, the Pitt Ohio case was initiated from events that started in 1997, which is 13 years ago. They have been working hard to change their practices and we are part of that effort. Is this not a positive action to create change on their part? The CRST case has been won in court twice. Again, Heather, do you know of any women involved in this action that I can speak with? Are you aware of the activities involved in this case? I would like to speak to a driver who was a victim. Do you believe that CRST has the freedom to join an association whose mission they support?
30. Is CRST currently your sponsor? Why or Why Not? If not, who terminated the sponsorship? No, they have never been a sponsor. CRST is a member however. They should be given the opportunity to provide a safe environment for their drivers and that includes joining the association as a member.
31. You have contacted several people, asking them to submit ideas about creating a “Best Practices Policy”, some of these contributions, attributed to you, have appeared in articles. Why were the original authors of the contributions not given credit for their ideas? Who are these people who state that I have contacted them? Heather, please give me the reference you are citing.
32. Your “Friend” recently made phone calls to explain that your “Best Practices” White Paper you had your “Eye” on will require $100,000 to produce, Please Explain that price tag? Heather, I have never made this claim regarding cost. Please identify who you are quoting and how they arrived at this estimate. This is another instance of “she said-he said” that was not attributed to me and I am not aware of the context. I would like to clarify something about associations. I am a certified association executive. This means that I have undergone extensive training in how to run an association. I formed Women In Trucking through the process of legal applications, by-laws, anti-trust issues, non-conflict policies, employment law, etc. One of the first activities I did was to create a board of directors. I am legally bound to the collective instructions of the board of directors. The board is the governing body and includes a professional driver, industry executives, etc. When people criticize me for not being a driver, they don’t understand association management. I report to people who have over 300 years experience in the trucking industry and were chosen for their knowledge and experience. They determine my priorities and monitor my activities. If you or others have questions or concerns about Women In Trucking, feel free to contact our board chairwoman, Leigh Foxall, who I report to. Leigh@womenintrucking.org Ellen Voie CAE President/CEO Women In Trucking, Inc.
After this Q & A was received, we found the answered questions to be less than accurate, some false or simply dancing around issues rather than being straight forward. The private investigator in question accidentally called me the day he 1st met with Ellen Voie, after this Q & A was delivered I contacted him to clarify her answer which was not accurate. The remarks about not being able to find a Woman who was willing to discuss the CRST Sex harassment case were also false and the vague accountability of the dating site www.truckercupid.com which was run by WIT director Marge Bailey. I would like to state that I do not have a problem with a dating site for truck drivers but I did have a problem with some of the tweets coming from Trucker Cupid saying that some veteran driver was looking for his soul mate and was willing to train a newbie but not clarifying that there are insurance issues for newbies and more than likely no qualified driving would be received by the newbie in such a scenario with a owner-operator should the relationship go south. Marge Bailey did agree to add a disclaimer following our conversations. The original posting of this dialogue had an astounding comment section which included Marge Bailey herself trying to clarify her position and that of WIT. It also had one particularly vicious attacked by one of the Keys Truckers referring to Rape and directed at Marge Bailey which I apologized to her for because I was driving and unable to remove and admonish the person who posted it. The purpose of this Q & A was to clarify whether WIT was going to represent drivers OR the industry because there had been too much wagging legs on either side of the fence since the group was founded and it was unclear who they represented. The issues facing women truckers are REAL. Misleading Women and those who want to enter the industry when cases like EEOC V CRST Van Expedited are occurring and we have knowledge that similar events were happening in other carriers remains dangerous and irresponsible. In 2012, the WIT organization solicited federal grant money to create a crisis line, this is something I discussed as one solution for Women entering trucking with Marge Bailey in several phone conversations following the original publication of this Q & A. I told her such a driver crisis line would need to be separate from any organization so that it could not be influenced by the carriers who were the offenders or it would simply be another conflict of interest, she agreed. I also told her that such a crisis line must be managed by people trained for trauma, not the victim blaming attacks like I experienced on the WIT forum in 2007 to 2008. At that time she told me WIT was not created to have a drivers crisis line although it was a good idea. The carriers I receive the most complaints about regarding harassment are WIT members/sponsors. Until WIT can eliminate carriers who have been unable to clean up their ethical standards with regards to harassment and sexual misconduct toward female students entering truck driver training, it is my opinion a drivers crisis line monitored by the WIT organization would be a conflict of interest.
In 2015, new sex assault allegations were filed against CRST. The WIT organization continues to keep them as sponsor/members along with a number of other major training carriers involved in litigation for gender discrimination and sexual harassment. While WIT claims they have created an “Anti-Harassment” document that is FREE for their sponsor/members, they do not openly state that this document is only available to the highest level sponsor/members, nor that many of the biggest offenders are part of their fundraising rotation and they have not established any criteria to join that would encourage corporate culture change.
Desiree Wood @TruckerDesiree