CRST Sex Harassment Case & Truck Driver Training

Women entering trucking are at higher risk of meeting obstacles that hinder their success because this male dominated environment is lacking in accountability.

Unethical behavior and misconduct is generally targeted at those least able to fight back, this is the obstacle I have seen most frequently for truck driver students, especially Women.

Sweeping things under the rug like sexual misconduct in truck driver training carriers has created a big lump in the rug. The CRST Sex Harassment case is an example of the ignored lump that eventually created a hazard so great many were harmed. While some claims may have been frivolous, some valid claims are sadly caught in the mess.

The failure falls upon the carrier who did little to properly train their trainers and the industry who looks the other way.

Truck driver training does a poor job to prepare student candidates to become qualified drivers. For females, the highly unusual expectation of the living arrangements can be dangerous.

With the recent rash of reports on the EEOC V. CRST Sex harassment case I was at first stunned that it took until 2012 for the Associated Press to widely cover this massive case, many of the incidents occurred in 2005. It has been sparsely reported on by mainstream media and mostly ignored by trucking media, including OOIDA , trucking radio programs on SIRIUS, publications widely distributed at truck stops where truck drivers might read about this case and trade publications that might make the industry more accountable by creating pressure from other sectors for carriers like CRST to clean up their act.

The recent barrage of reports note that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had filed a “friend of the court brief”.  If you are not aware, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the former head of the American Trucking Association, if that does not SCREAM of politics I do not know what more one would need.

Perhaps, this story is all over because some other industry with as much clout as big trucking wants to rattle some cages? Maybe they could care less about Women or the EEOC case. Maybe it’s merely a power struggle between big rail and big trucking OR big labor and labor crushing, I don’t know but it is an issue that should be addressed.

Just 3 days before the AP broke this story, Ellen Voie the self-appointed corporate apologist for big trucking thanked CRST for renewing their corporate membership yet I received a letter from a CRST female student in distress just a few months back. I was also advised that remarks in court documents about an internal CRST crisis line which was somehow the remedy for their “issues” was no longer being used.

Ms. Voie appeared in the workplace bullying documentary in a segment called “Raw Sound Bytes from a Trucking Convention” and explained that the women of the CRST case only wanted to be part of a lawsuit but also stated she had never spoken to any of the Women.

So here we are in 2012 and the achievements to move beyond the CRST sex harassment case have been limited to the following:

  • The non-profit WIT organization has applied for federal grant money to establish an external crisis line to protect females from their corporate sponsors.
  •  The President of that organization has doubled her salary in a year when most people are lucky to have a job.
  •  A WIT tattoo party was held so the non-truck driving President could brand herself with the organization logo for you tube.
  • The super-secret anti-harassment guide has been dangled out as a prize to be won to only the highest level of corporate members.

This less than serious approach to correcting just one issue in truck driver training makes it seem as though the safety of women entering trucking is only available to the highest bidder.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put in a good word for a carrier whose unethical practices towards both genders are legendary among truck drivers and this only serves to show how far up the food chain these people are willing to go to not take action on their dirty house.

Rather than provide more freebies from government assistance why not demand some accountability from truck driver training carriers?  I can name three that I most frequently receive the most complaints about for sexual misconduct during the training period.

Here is some information truck driver training that students of both genders are not educated about when they enter the industry:

  • Women are targeted for recruitment but most likely they will encounter highly intimate living situations with a Man they do not know at some point during their training for which they are poorly prepared.
  • While not all Men become sexually abusive many do become frustrated in such close quarters either due to the demands of training or cultural beliefs and may lash out in other ways when a female student is present on their truck.
  • There is a high stress level in truck driver training for students who are generally poorly prepared by CDL Schools and for the trainer who is aware that a poorly recruited candidate is a risk to his/her life.
  • The climate and lifestyle for over the road truck driver training puts the student in a disoriented environment which is effective for a predatory or control freak type personality.  For this reason, truck driver trainers should have personality testing and background checks for violence against women or sexual crimes.
  • Carriers that receive any government funds in the form of subsidies, tax credits, exemptions or workforce investment act vouchers for tuition should be held to a higher standard as it is the taxpayers funding the mythical truck driver shortage which never ceases and produces few qualified truck drivers.
  • Misleading truck driver recruiting advertising such as “…make $74,000 in a little as 6 months” which are generally the bait to lure someone into high-priced truck driver training programs should be ceased.

For Women entering trucking there is cause for concern when carriers offer little if any sexual harassment training in an environment where people from all socio-economic backgrounds are expected to live and work together with little supervision.

Who has the power to control of the situation?

Good training is currently a crapshoot and this is unacceptable for a job where people are risking their lives and operating heavy machinery on public highways.

The harassment issue in truck driver training is complex because it has not been intelligently addressed and it most definitely should not be for sale or in exchange to the highest bidding sponsors.

There are numerous reports of screaming, yelling, isolating female students to break them down, throwing Women off trucks and leaving them stranded, violence and rape. There is also the woman scorned.

What many do not understand is that some Men live a double life on the road and many Women are not prepared for this type of isolation and sometimes manipulation associated with training.

If a Woman does actually get a good Male trainer that teaches well there are times the female may romanticize the situation and initiate sex with the trainer. A properly educated individual should know to remove themselves from a situation or risk losing employment and understand potential repercussions.

In corporate environments that are responsible and who employ intelligent sexual harassment training this is taught but it is nearly non-existent in truck driver training carriers.

The professionalism lies on the shoulders of the carriers and their trainers whom they put in trust to disoriented students who are not familiar with the trucking “lifestyle”.

Street law often prevails which is “You snitch and you are gone”; this ingrained retaliation for reporting harassment in truck driver training carriers is why this industry has evolved very little.

Recruiting naive people is the mainstay of the student truck driver industry. Covering up, blaming the student, blaming the victims but common sense should tell anyone that such an enormous turnover rate indicates poor leadership on an epic scale.

Here is an actual scenario:

A Single woman attends orientation; she has no money and arrives on the greyhound with all her belongings in boxes. A representative of the safety department who was formerly employed as local law enforcement observes her and follows her to her motel room. He makes his way into her room, drops his pants and tells her to perform oral sex.

When a Woman carting her belongings in cardboard boxes would report a situation as described above whom would you be inclined to believe?

Truck driver training carriers have little accountability for their turnover, their accidents rates and the conduct of training with female students. CRST is simply one of several that the American Trucking Association and its “associates” have protected from being held to a higher standard.

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