Archive for January, 2011

Timken’s results could boost truck driver jobs

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Timken’s 2010 financial results could be a driving factor in the creation of truck driver jobs.

The Timken Company today reported sales of $4.1 billion for 2010, an increase of 29 percent from the prior year. Light-vehicle demand provided an early boost in sales and remained strong throughout the year. In the second half, accelerated demand in the heavy-truck, off-highway, energy and industrial distribution sectors further increased top-line growth. Surcharges and pricing contributed to the sales increase as well.

In 2010, Timken earned $267.4 million from continuing operations net of non-controlling interest, or $2.73 per diluted share. In the prior year, the company’s continuing operations incurred a loss of $61.4 million net of non-controlling interest, or $0.64 per share.

“We are pleased with our performance in 2010.  Our strong profitability and cash flow, leveraging this mild economic recovery, demonstrate that our efforts over the past few years to transform the company are succeeding,” said James W. Griffith, Timken president and chief executive officer.  “Timken is emerging as a stronger company, focused on performance for our customers and our shareholders.  These improvements provide a firm foundation for our future growth.”

In 2010, excluding special items, Timken posted $288.9 million in income from continuing operations net of non-controlling interest, or $2.95 per diluted share. That compares with 2009 income of $50.9 million from continuing operations, net of non-controlling interest, or $0.53 per share.

Compared with the prior year, the company’s 2010 performance benefited from higher volume, pricing and surcharges, as well as an improved cost structure and greater manufacturing efficiencies. Increased raw-material costs and related LIFO charges partially offset these benefits, in addition to higher selling and administrative costs from the company’s performance-based compensation plans.

Special items for continuing operations in 2010 totaled $21.5 million of expense, net of tax, principally associated with manufacturing rationalization and restructuring activities. In 2009, special items for continuing operations amounted to $112.3 million of expense, net of tax, and included impairment charges as well as severance associated with the company’s cost-reduction efforts.

During the past year, the company took significant actions to strengthen both its operational and performance capabilities. The company:

  • Introduced a record number of new products, including materials, components and assemblies. Examples include wind energy products for multi-megawatt wind turbines and proprietary new wear-resistant bearing technology that outperforms conventional coatings;
  • Launched a new engineering system to reduce concept-to-commercialization time;
  • Opened its wind bearing facility in Xiangtan, China, and a distribution center in Duncan, South Carolina, as well as announced a number of investments in its Canton, Ohio, steel operations to improve productivity and safety;
  • Expanded its sales infrastructure in Asia, adding offices in Indonesia, China and Vietnam;
  • Completed the last major implementation phase of its SAP “Project O.N.E.” global enterprise system;
  • Acquired QM Bearings, headquartered in Ferndale, Wash., extending its industrial product line with spherical roller bearing steel-housed units and couplings;
  • Purchased the assets of City Scrap & Salvage Co. in Akron, Ohio, to improve supply of raw materials to its steel facilities in Canton;
  • Increased shareholder dividends twice during the year, restoring the quarterly dividend to the pre-recession level of 18 cents per share; and
  • Made $230 million in contributions to defined benefit pension plans and established a VEBA (voluntary employee benefits arrangement) trust to pre-fund retiree-medical costs with an initial $54-million contribution.

Could proposal harm truck driver jobs?

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

A new proposal could potentially harm U.S. truck driver jobs.

Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) sent a letter to Obama Administration officials, asking them to reconsider a recent proposal to allow long-haul Mexican trucks to ship cargo into the United States.

“This proposal is dangerous and it threatens jobs here in Iowa,” said Congressman Braley. “When we have so many hard-working Americans out of a job, I cannot support a program that puts Mexican workers and truckers first. I strongly urge Secretary LaHood to advise the President against allowing Mexican trucks on American roads.”

Yesterday, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood offered a proposal to allow Mexican long-haul truck operators to apply for permits to operate in the United States. Labor leaders warn that such a proposal threatens American truck driver and warehouse worker jobs – especially during the recession.

“I’m also deeply concerned that this proposal puts Americans at risk,” said Congressman Braley. “Mexico’s safety standards are not on par with ours, and letting tens of thousands of these trucks onto our highways poses a serious threat to everyone traveling on our roads. I drove a truck myself and I know just how dangerous these vehicles can be if they’re not operated properly.”

With increased drug cartel violence along the Mexican border, this proposal also threatens to give cartels an alternate way of getting their products across the border. In fact, there is little doubt that cartels would try to infiltrate the trucking system to transport drugs.

“It’s due time to renegotiate NAFTA and eliminate this dangerous requirement to open our borders to Mexican trucks,” said Congressman Braley.

Truck driver jobs gear up to go out on the road

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Truck driver jobs are numerous and plentiful, and the top drivers are getting a chance to get out on the road.

The American Trucking Associations today announced the Captains of the 2011-2012 America’s Road Team. The premier group of million-mile, accident-free professional truck drivers will spend the next two years representing the trucking industry and delivering its highway safety message to the motoring public.

18 captains, with a collective 483 years behind the wheel and over 36.5 million accident- free miles, were selected from a group of 34 finalists who competed this week before a panel of judges from the trucking industry and related fields. The competition included a review of trucking industry expertise and a demonstration of their communication skills, combined with their community service and lifetime safety records.

“The America’s Road Team puts an impressive face behind the wheel,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.  ”These ambassadors to the industry have remarkable safe driving records and an unmatched enthusiasm for their job and for the industry.  Their desire to share their knowledge and passion for safety benefits the motoring public and helps keep our highways safe.  The trucking industry is proud to welcome the 2011-2012 America’s Road Team.”

ATA created America’s Road Team in 1986. It continues today with the generous support of Volvo Trucks North America. The Team represents America’s 3.4 million professional drivers and serves as an example of the professional dedication and teamwork needed to deliver America’s freight safely and on time.

“Volvo Trucks congratulates the highly skilled drivers chosen to serve as trucking industry ambassadors in 2011 and 2012,” said Ron Huibers, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America. “These dedicated professionals help create safer highways for all of us and ensure the timely delivery of life’s essentials. Volvo also applauds the companies who so generously provide these drivers, making the America’s Road Team possible.”

While maintaining their jobs as full-time professional drivers, the new America’s Road Team Captains will now travel the country speaking on behalf of the trucking industry to the community, news media and public officials. The Captains will address transportation and safety issues, speaking at community events and anywhere they can reach the motoring public to share safe driving tips and offer advice on how to safely share the road with tractor-trailers.

The America’s Road Team Captains also advocate safety to those within the industry at terminals and truck stops. They speak with fellow drivers, driver training students and corporate safety officers. They also have the opportunity to present trucking and safety issues before our public officials, at the national, state and local levels.

To be nominated to serve as an America’s Road Team Captain, the candidates must be employed as a company driver or leased owner-operator by a full-dues-paying member of ATA. Each nominee must have an excellent safety record and demonstrate an ability to communicate a commitment to safety and professionalism.

Truck driver jobs vulnerable to schemes, says report

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

A new report is exposing how truck driver jobs are vulnerable to schemes.

A groundbreaking study of the U.S. port trucking industry finds that the nation’s 110,000 port truck drivers, who move millions of cargo containers annually from port cities to store shelves across the country, are highly vulnerable to illegal employment classification schemes that subject them to poverty-level wages, frequent safety violations, and little autonomy from the employers who dictate their financial constraints. The report, conducted by labor market experts at the National Employment Law Project, Change to Win and Rutgers University, draws on in-depth interviews with drivers at the nation’s major ports and concludes that the typical port truck driver is misclassified as an independent contractor. The study also concludes that the toxic diesel-truck pollution in the air of the nation’s port regions is a direct result of the industry’s adoption of misclassification as a business model.

“Trucking companies across the U.S. are rigging the game by forcing port drivers, who ship everything from tennis shoes to televisions across thousands of miles, into taking poverty-level wages.  This report sheds light on an underground economy in which companies are skirting a host of obligations in order to profit greatly – at great cost to the people they hire, the government, the public, and other businesses that play by the rules,” said Dr. David Bensman, Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University and a co-author of the report.

The Big Rig: Poverty, Pollution and the Misclassification of Truck Drivers at America’s Ports reflects findings from interviews of port truck drivers at 39 companies in Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York and New Jersey and hundreds of their employment documents, including truck leases, pay stubs, insurance provisions, safety policies, drug and alcohol policies, meeting agendas, log books, and job applications. Combined with an aggregation of 10 prior surveys of 2,183 workers at seven major ports and a review of the industry’s structure and economics since its deregulation thirty years ago, it is the first-ever systematic examination of misclassification across an entire U.S. industry.

“The conditions under which these truckers work have virtually nothing in common with a true independent business. Trucking companies dictate how, when and where drivers do their work – leaving the drivers financially and operationally dependent on their employers day-in and day-out.  Labeling them ‘independent’ is just a way for companies to sneak out the back door and skirt their responsibilities,” said co-author Rebecca Smith, an attorney with the National Employment Law Project.

The report comes at a time when misclassification – of grocery deliverers, farm workers, janitors, home care workers, construction workers and more – is under increasing scrutiny. A February 2009 U.S. Treasury Inspector General estimate found that the unpaid Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance taxes that companies skirt due to misclassification have alone cost the nation $15 billion, and President Obama has made curbing misclassification a key part of his FY2011 budget as a means to save the government money and promote good jobs.