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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bears fan treated with grace at Lambeau

americanfootballfilms.com
The Green Bay Packers, in my opinion, have the greatest fans in the country. There are always some exceptions, but all in all, I'm proud to be from Wisconsin. Read this account from a Chicago Bear fan, thanks to www.packernews.com and, of course, Vince Slisz. I've read many other accounts of how opposing teams fans are treated at Lambeau. Links provided:
 
11/22/2014  My son Alex and I were invited to go to the Packers/Bears game by my daughter's longtime Green Bay fan boyfriend, Jason. Neither my son nor I have ever been in Green Bay, so we looked forward to it with some apprehension as we know how Green Bay fans are treated here in Chicago.
Three blocks from the stadium I twisted my back and had trouble walking. Luckily Alex and Jason are two big guys, each grabbing one of my arm s and helping me the rest of the way. Upon entering the stadium an employee saw I was having trouble and hurried over to me with a much welcome wheelchair. He pushed me onto an elevator in my Bears jersey and hat.
There was another man in a wheelchair, that he appeared to need daily, dressed in his Packers jersey and hat. I asked, how you doing? He said better than you, I am a Packers fan. Everyone on the elevator laughed the whole ride.
I was wheeled as close as possible to my seat. where I had to take one step at a time. We were eight rows up on the 30-yard line behind the Bears. All the way down, Packers fans offered me their arms and hands to help me to my seat. As there are no backs to the seats, I had trouble sitting up straight. Not two minutes into the game a Packers fan gave me the chair that hooks on to the seat.
I don't think I have ever seen such kindness at any sporting event, and there was no doubt I was a Bears fan. I want to thank everyone in Green Bay for their kindness, even the next day. I will be sure to tell everyone I know this story. It made a painful day, in more ways than one, a day to remember in human kindness.
Vince Slisz, Orland Park, IL

http://www.packersnews.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/11/22/bears-fan-treated-grace-lambeau/19414973/

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Huh? Drivers Demand Fair Pay from Walmart? Say What?

Image: nydailynews.com
Only in La La Land, the People's Republic of California. According to what I've seen published, Walmart is one of the top companies in the country for driver pay. I've read that their average annual compensation is between $70,000 and $80,000! Walmart runs a tight ship and their drivers work hard for their money. But this is ridiculous. How many millions of dollars will Walmart have to spend to defend itself? Story thanks to truckersreport.com Links provided:

Drivers Demand Fair Wages: Class Action Suit Filed Against Wal-Mart

The war over driver pay and minimum wage has raged off and on for decades now, but it looks like the tide may shift soon as a new legal battle is about to start in California courts. A judge has just approved class action status for a lawsuit being brought against Wal-Mart Transportation by a group of drivers claiming that Wal-Mart is violating state law by failing to pay them minimum wage.

You’ve probably heard this argument before, this ‘new’ case was actually first filed back in 2008, but it was only approved for class action status last week, which was the push that was needed to get the ball rolling.

Wal-Mart drivers are paid by the mile like most of the drivers in this industry, and also receive pay for any activity that Wal-Mart deems compensable. Some non-compensable duties drivers must perform are pre and post-trip inspections, completing paperwork, rest breaks, fueling, and maintaining and washing their rigs.

Again, all of this is fairly standard in the industry, but the plaintiffs in the case argue that while minimum wage requirements are satisfied if only driving time is taken into account, when you count the so-called non-compensable duties as part of the work day, Wal-Mart’s pay falls short.

It’s not only the below-minimum-wage pay that drivers are claiming is illegal. They also take issue with the lack of state mandated paid meal breaks, and failing to provide accurate wage statements.

There isn’t anything really remarkable about Wal-Mart’s treatment of its drivers, but that’s precisely what makes this case so important. It’s a high-profile company with a large class action suit being brought against it for the payment practices that the majority of carriers employ. If this domino falls, it could have a huge impact on the rest of the industry.

 http://www.thetruckersreport.com/drivers-demand-fair-wages

More in depth article below thanks to The Trucker.com Links provided:

9/17/2014
Truck drivers employed by Wal-Mart have been granted class action status in a lawsuit over the employer’s alleged failure to pay minimum wage in violation of the California Labor Code.
The California district court determined that the drivers met the requirements of Rule 23 after concluding that they identified common questions of law and fact concerning the alleged minimum wage violations and waiting-time penalties. The court also found that common questions regarding Wal-Mart’s pay formula meant that common issues predominated over individualized issues as required by Rule 23(b)(3).
However, certification was denied as  a class action for the employee’s wage statement claims.
Former truck drivers employed by Wal-Mart brought a class action suit alleging that the mega retailer violated various provisions of the California Labor Code and Business and Professional Code by failing to pay minimum wage, provide meal and rest breaks, and provide accurate wage statements.
According to the employees, Wal-Mart uniformly applied policies, detailed in its driver pay manuals, that rendered the issues in this case appropriate for class action. Specifically, they alleged that Wal-Mart’s piece-rate pay policies did not provide minimum wages and did not pay drivers for certain mandatory activities, in violation of California law. Wal-Mart pays its drivers based on mileage, activity pay (for duties Wal-Mart deems compensable), and non-activity pay (for events at Wal-Mart dispatch and home offices or unplanned events). The drivers contended that Wal-Mart’s piece-rate pay policies did not pay drivers minimum wage for all of the work they perform for tasks such as pre- and post-trip inspections; rest breaks; fueling; washing the tractors; weighing the tractors; completing mandatory paperwork; wait time and layover periods. When drivers are given a driving assignment, they also receive a projected estimated time of arrival. Drivers are to look at the estimated time only as an estimate and adjust it with the knowledge that they need a 10-minute rest break and/or a meal break under California law. The drivers have full autonomy to make changes to the estimated times.
Tasks including fueling, washing, and weighing trucks are not separately paid. Additionally, drivers must remain in the tractor when fueling at a regional distribution center and may be required to fuel their own tractor when fueling at a grocery distribution center. Drivers are also responsible for the cleanliness of the tractor and trailer and must wash them once per week, or as often as needed.
As to the waiting time issue, drivers are not separately compensated for all time spent waiting. Under the 2001Driver Pay Manual, the first two hours of wait time after arrival at a store, an hour after arrival at a vendor and when waiting at a return center, is non-compensable. The manual further states that drivers are not paid for wait time when routine scheduled maintenance is performed on equipment, when undergoing a DOT inspection, or for any time spent at a highway weigh scale.
Drivers were paid $42 for 10-hour layover periods. A layover is earned when taking a mandatory DOT break and is not paid in conjunction with any other type of pay.
In additional to an overall class of California drivers, the employees also sought to certify a waiting-time penalty sub-class. Wal-Mart argued that the employees’ questions were not capable of class resolution because the question of whether drivers were paid for various tasks required individualized inquiries. It also argued that the policies in its manuals were merely “guidelines” and that the employees’ inquiries required driver-by-driver and task-by-task analysis.
The court determined that the employees met the commonality requirement for the proposed class of drivers and found that the employees identified common questions of law and fact concerning minimum wages, including: whether Wal-Mart’s piece-rate pay plan violated California’s minimum wage laws by failing to pay drivers minimum wage for all hours worked; whether Wal-Mart’s drivers are entitled to payment of at least minimum wages for all hours worked; and whether Wal-Mart requires drivers to perform services during DOT-mandated layovers, for which drivers are paid less than California’s minimum wage.
Similarly, the court concluded that the drivers had also identified a common question of law and fact concerning waiting-time penalties: whether Wal-Mart violated Labor Code Sec. 203 by willfully failing to pay all wages due and owing to each driver whose employment ended at any time during the class period.
Again, the court found that the employees’ question can be resolved on a class-wide basis, and so they satisfied the commonality requirement for the waiting-time penalty subclass.
Observing that the employees’ theory of recovery involved Wal-Mart’s common practice or policy denying all class members minimum wage for all hours worked and that the  plaintiffs were subject to the policies and suffered the same injury as a result of the policies, the court found that they met the typicality requirement. Additionally, because Wal-Mart did not challenge the adequacy of the representative plaintiffs to serve as class representative, the court found that they met the adequacy requirements of Rule 23(a)(4).
With respect to the driver class, Wal-Mart first argued that the plaintiffs had not offered a way to determine which drivers performed which tasks or the amount of time spent on those tasks in California, so they could not meet the predominance requirement. However, the court found its argument unpersuasive. It found that the plaintiffs were California residents and worked out of distribution centers located in California. Further, it found that the plaintiffs presumptively enjoyed the protections of IWC regulations, so Wal-Mart’s argument presented no bar to the predominance requirement. The court also rejected Wal-Mart’s argument that the employees’ minimum wage claims required an hour-by-hour, driver-by-driver, and task-by-task analysis of how each plaintiff spent his workday, and these individual questions would overwhelm any common questions.
Instead, the court concluded that Wal-Mart’s pay formula raised common questions, and these common questions predominated over individual questions of whether certain drivers received additional discretionary pay after requesting such payments, or whether some drivers completed tasks like paperwork during wait-time or attended to personal phone calls during layovers. Accordingly, the court found that the plaintiffs satisfied the predominance requirement for their minimum wage claims. However, the court denied the employees’ motion for class certification for claims of inaccurate wage statements because they did not show that class members shared a common injury as a result of the missing wage statement information that could be adjudicated on a class-wide basis or that there were common legal question that predominated over the individualized issues for plaintiffs’ wage statement claims.
Wal-Mart also challenged whether the plaintiffs had established predominance for their waiting-time claims under California Labor Code Sec. 203. According to the plaintiffs, Wal-Mart’s policy of failing to pay drivers at least the minimum wage for all hours worked constituted a violation of Sec. 203. They suggested that Wal-Mart instituted a payment system that ensured its drivers were not paid the minimum wage. Under this framing of the waiting-time issue, the court found that common questions predominated and individualized inquiries into each driver’s underpayment were not required.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

http://www.thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2014/9/17/Wal-MarttruckdriversgrantedclassactionstatusinCaliforniaminimumwagelawsuit.aspx


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Florida Woman Cheats Owner-Operators out of nearly $250,000

Image: bizjournals.com
From the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida

Tallahassee Woman Indicted for Using Fraudulent IRS Stamps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA– United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh, Northern District of Florida, announced that Elisa Christina Avila Jackson, 30, of Tallahassee, Florida, was arraigned this afternoon in court after being charged by a federal grand jury with five counts of wire fraud and one count of possessing a counterfeit Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) stamp.
The indictment alleges that between June 7, 2011, and February 11, 2014, Jackson conducted a scheme to defraud owners of large tractor trailers around the State of Florida of monies that were to be paid to the IRS relating to the federal Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax.  Jackson operated Bee’s Carrier Permitting and Licensing, Inc. (“BCPL”), which purportedly provided assistance to owners of large tractor trailers in preparing and filing their annual applications for registration with the State of Florida.  As mandated by federal regulation, prior to issuing a vehicle registration, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles required BCPL and others applying for annual large tractor trailer registrations to provide a copy of a tax form stamped by the IRS as proof that the owner’s federal Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax had been paid.
The indictment further alleges that Jackson collected from BCPL customers the amount due and owing to the IRS for the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax and promised to pay that amount to the IRS.  However, rather than paying the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax to the IRS, Jackson created fraudulent IRS forms bearing a counterfeit IRS numbered remittance stamp, which forms falsely reflected that these taxes had been remitted to the IRS.  The indictment also charges that through this scheme, Jackson fraudulently obtained approximately $248,000.00.
Counts One through Five of the indictment charge Jackson with wire fraud.  For each of these counts, if convicted, Jackson faces a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty (20) years, a period of supervised release of up to three (3) years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a $100 special monetary assessment.  Count Six of the indictment charges Jackson with possession of an IRS stamp with intent to defraud.  If convicted on this count, Jackson faces a term of imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, a period of supervised release of up to three (3) years, a fine of up to $10,000, and a $100 special monetary assessment.
The trial of this case is scheduled for November 3, 2014, before the Honorable Robert L. Hinkle.
The indictment results from an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Commercial Vehicle and Driver Services.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason Beaton.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial in a court of law.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Truckers Celebrating Holidays Away From Home

Image: cardsdirect.com
The following is a guest post thanks to and written by Caroline Hill. The company she works for owns and operates an online job board for jobs in the trucking industry called AllTruckJobs.com. Check them out at the links provided:

Some folks decide to spend holidays away from home to do something different. Like maybe they feel that celebrating Thanksgiving in Hawaii would make them more thankful…or maybe Christmas in the Caribbean suits people who move to the beat of their own drummer. But the reality is, celebrating holidays away from home is not a choice for many; but rather, just another part of their job. Truckers commonly have to keep moving even when most are able to have time off celebrating with families.   

When an individual chooses a trucking career, they usually understand the endeavor they are venturing into.  Typically, truckers are away from home for about three weeks a month. A lot of times there’s no choice when it comes to getting home for weekends and holidays. After all, the holiday season wouldn’t even happen if it wasn’t for the truck drivers supplying store shelves with all the things we need.

The holiday season causes a lot of stress and it especially can take a toll on the morale of truck drivers. The season leading up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. can cause increase in deadlines and extra loads. Worse yet, anxiety builds, as truckers rarely know whether or not they’ll be spending the holiday at home or not until last minute.  

So how do truckers far from home celebrate holidays if not at home?  And how do they cope with the additional stress that comes along with it?

A lot of truck drivers come up with creative solutions to missing a chance to be home for the holidays. Like many military families, they learn to schedule holiday celebrations for days they will be home. For instance, a driver may not be able to be home for December 25th to celebrate Christmas with his wife and kids. But, maybe a few weeks prior or afterward they can schedule their own special day. In some cases, celebrating on a different day brings the true meaning to the purpose of the season; highlighting the main focus of holidays, which is time, spent with loved ones.

Another solution for beating the missed-holiday blues is to find a support network of others who are going through the same thing.  Finding individuals who are going through similar emotions is a great way to find comfort.  And thank goodness for the technology we have now that allows modern drivers to video chat with mobile devices to family and friends. Now, at least a driver can see their special people in their lives, even if it’s only on screen.

The best way to get over the seasonal blues that come along with trucking during the holidays, is to realize that although this is one of the hardest parts of your career, there’s still a lot to be thankful for. In the grand scheme of things, you have food in your belly, a steady career and income, and a warm place to stay. Although you may be missing your loved ones dearly, it’s important to be reminded that AT LEAST you have those people in your life. And, if that’s not enough reason to keep truckin’ during the holiday season…I don’t know what is.

For more like this, check out “The Tractor Factor” blog at https://www.alltruckjobs.com/blog/

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ticket Camera Companies - Amping Up The Rhetoric

ncbussafety.org
Please, before you believe the scare tactics of these companies, examine some of the real facts, as outlined below. The real purpose behind all this is revenue, revenue and more revenue. To the camera companies, state and local governments, and to "friendly" politicians. As in the name of campaign contributions and favors. It's more of the same from the ones that started "red light" and "speed zone" camera revenue generators. Example: put up a red light camera at an intersection and then reduce the time of the yellow light!

Article thanks to James C.Walker and the National Motorists Association. Help support the cause, you can join for FREE at http://www.motorists.org/
 

Cutting through the Emotional Rhetoric

Editor’s Note: The ticket camera companies are masters at exploiting the public’s emotional responses to traffic accidents and fatalities. Nothing like conjuring up a little fear and outrage to sell a few “safety” cameras, especially when the potential victims are school children. Nowhere is this cynicism more apparent than with school bus “stop arm” cameras that record alleged passing violations at school bus stops.

The camera companies would have us believe that school children are particularly vulnerable to careless motorists who don’t stop for the bus, but the truth is most school-age pedestrian fatalities involving school buses are caused by the bus. We’ve run the numbers here. Executive Director of the NMA Foundation Jim Walker provides his own provocative assessment of the safety value of schol bus cameras in this letter to officials in Rockingham County, Virginia.

Dear Rockingham County Officials,

I have several points.

1) Please follow the math carefully to relate the probability that the school bus stop arm cameras could prevent an injury or fatality to a school child in Rockingham County.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports School Transportation-Related Crashes each year, for a 10 year period. The latest report is NHTSA report # 811890 covering 2003 through 2012. It shows that 36 under-age-19 pedestrians were killed by passing cars in that 10 year period.  The numbers in the last 5 annual reports have been 36, 35, 32, 35, and 36 so the numbers are very stable over time. Note that this is less than one fatality per state per 10 years by passing vehicles, an extremely rare event.

Note also in this same 10 year time frame 83 under-age-19 pedestrians were killed by the school bus or a vehicle acting as the school bus, so 70 percent of the young pedestrian fatalities were caused by the bus, not by passing vehicles. The dangers to children are much higher from the buses than from other vehicles.

NHTSA does not produce reports for injuries of under-age-19 pedestrians in School Transportation-Related Crashes, but nationwide there are about 80 injuries for each fatality in all types of transportation crashes. It is likely that the number of such injuries for the decade of 2003-2012 is somewhere around 36 x 80 = 2,880. Dividing 2,880 by 51 for the states plus DC, and by 10 for the time frame, means an average of about 5.6 injuries per year per state for under-age-19 pedestrians in crashes with passing vehicles.

In the latest numbers I could find, Rockingham County had about 11,400 K-12 school children, so let’s look at the proportion for Rockingham County. The United States has about 54,876,000 K-12 school children, so Rockingham represents 11,400 divided by 54,876,000 = .000207741 of the countrywide total.

For fatalities: 36 x .000207741 = .007478676, so if every child in Rockingham County rides a school bus and the cameras prevented 100 percent of the fatalities from passing cars, the county would prevent .007478676 fatalities per decade, or .0007478676 fatalities per year. This means you could expect to prevent one fatality about every 1,337 years with the cameras.

For injuries: 2,880 x .000207741 = .59829408, so if every child in Rockingham County rides a school bus and the cameras prevented 100 percent of the injuries from passing cars, the county would prevent .59829408 injuries per decade or .059829408 injuries per year. This means you could expect to prevent one injury about every 16.7 years with the cameras.

I hope this proportional math makes it clear that any promises made to you or any hopes you have yourselves about actual safety results in Rockingham County in any reasonable time frame from the stop arm cameras are false. The numbers of injuries and fatalities caused by passing vehicles are very small overall, and Rockingham County has a very small proportion of the school age children in the nation.

2) In the above math, there are some assumptions that simply won't be true.

a) It is likely that not every child rides the bus every school day.

b) The cameras will not stop 100 percent of the possible injuries or fatalities. Some of the crashes involve drivers that are DUI, medically impaired, heavily distracted by something, or even fleeing police. The chance that a ticket would be mailed to them after the fact will not affect those crashes, because those drivers either didn't see the warning flashers on the bus at all, or deliberately ignored them.

c) Bad weather will sometimes cause some drivers to under-estimate their stopping distance, and they will slide into the danger area even when they see the warning flashers.

Ticket camera companies often promise a lot, but deliver a lot less, or sometimes deliver nothing of actual value for safety.

In short, in my opinion, the emotional appeal of stop arm cameras is very strong but the probabilities of actual safety results in Rockingham County are very near to zero.

Respectfully submitted,

James C. Walker
Life Member, National Motorists Association
Board Member and Executive Director, National Motorists Association Foundation