Follow up on Women In Trucking

Yesterday I posted a Sneak Peek of a video I’ll be posting on harassment in the trucking industry.  It featured an interview with Ellen Voie, President & CEO of Women In Trucking.  Today I received this comment from her brother and I wanted to address his concerns formally:

Beverly,

I am Ellen Voie’s brother. I don’t know what impression Ellen made on you, or what you wish to do, but I think you are missing Ellen’s goal to help start a forum for women drivers to speak out against abuses and to join together in a network that helps the profession. The Dan Rather expose’ doesn’t tell the whole story about the women who do feel well trained and equipped to drive semi’s. I hope you will interview those who are happy in their profession as well as those who feel they have been harmed and harrassed.

My Response:

First, thank you so much for posting! I am grateful that you have opened up this discussion and that your sister allowed me to interview her on this topic and I sincerely hope others join in.  I do realize and deeply appreciate that women truckers love their jobs.  That’s precisely why it’s so tragic when a co-worker who feels comfortable treating them in a lewd or sexually explicit manner jeopardizes any one of these women’s careers.

Your sister represents one approach to affecting change in the trucking industry.   And, I did speak with a woman involved in the class action suit.  She didn’t hate her job.  She LOVED it. There are powerful lawyers and well financed lobbyists representing the trucking industry.  So, the critical question becomes, who is advocating for the victim?   Because while it’s easy to see it from the side of the employer that these are the rumblings of a disgruntled employee, or the women asked for it, or want a quick payday, it’s far harder to risk speaking out for the innocent victim whose only offense was that she was a woman in a job that is traditionally male.

11 thoughts on “Follow up on Women In Trucking

  1. It seems like Mr. Fletcher recognizes the problem and describes a story I have heard many times.

    I never met Mr. Fletcher and had not seen this video until this week and it so eerily familiar that I cannot understand how the industry can denie this is not a pattern

    Just saw an article on Twitter about the Army called Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within.

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  2. Beverly,

    I would like to add to my on-camera comments to clarify that I do believe that there are incidences of harassment in the industry and I do feel that the women involved should be taken seriously.

    As a small nonprofit association, we strive to help educate and empower women to recognize and avoid harassment. However, we do not have the resources or skill to address crimes against our members. We do direct women to the appropriate authorities when we are contacted.

    Thank you for helping women understand some of the issues that need to be addressed to make the trucking industry a more driver friendly environment.

    Thank you,
    Ellen Voie
    Women In Trucking, Inc.

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  3. Ellen,

    It’s great to hear from you and thank you again for your help at GATS and allowing me to interview you.

    Like you, I hope that the role of the press will help women in trucking understand issues in their industry and take advantage of the resources you offer to, when possible, help avoid harassment.

    However, ultimately this type of change requires employers who create a work culture that does not tolerate sexual harassment. The first legal cases in the U.S. that recognized Sexual Harassment occurred in the 1970’s. And, given the climate of the trucking industry, I was not surprised when you told me that there was no Sexual Harassment training in the school you attended. You said at the time we spoke that you realized that your organization could play a larger role in changing that as you had an upcoming opportunity to work with the EEOC. I would be happy to film this type of work and include it in my documentary if you are interested.

    – Bev

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  4. Ellen, I believe the Woman In Trucking Organization could be a tremendous asset and resource for women if you could have control of WIT ( instead of the Sponsors and forum bullies.)
    Women and their concerns need to come first and their experiences taken seriously.
    There are women who have written us at AskTheTrucker with their concerns and stories. I have sent them over to your site in the past, but since the atmosphere at WIT has been that of harsh criticism by a few of the main contributors of the forum at WIT,( I also was insulted there as you know per our phone conversation,) I no longer send them over. (The thread of “My Experiences in Trucking” has a 404 error message now? )
    I believe it would be beneficial if you could play a mojor role in directly answering the women on the forum, rather than allowing them to be humiliated by “the regulars”, (who have dominated the forum) There have been women who were made to feel “weak” just because they were not able to tough it out on their own.
    Also, by exposing the wrong ways of the schools and training companies in question, and not hiding them, we all will be doing a service for the trucking industry, including men and women, both already in trucking and entering trucking as a career.
    WIT should be a place for women to go and be allowed to be heard (that won’t cost WIT a dime) People should be able to voice their opinions, even if it’s about a company that may be a sponsor of WIT.
    I do believe that when you started WIT that your intentions were to help and benefit women. Ironically, it appears (to me at least) that you have been a victim of bullying yourself ( sponsors dictating how you run your organization) and thus have been inhibited , discouraged, and eventually prevented from offering positive and useful advice and direction to women who have so desperately come looking for it.
    I personally would like to see WIT as a haven for women, a place where they will be accepted and their concerns, questions, and fears addressed with respect and dignity. In order for that to happen though, you will need to be the one calling the shots.

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  5. It’s important that when posting on this or any site you remember that you are legally responsible for the comments that you leave.

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  6. Ellen Voie did not answer your question. Sexual harassment against women in and around trucking is not an isolated incident and companies need to provide protection.

    Ellen you could do more for women in trucking by educating fleet owners about sexual harassment and abuse, and teach classes about sexual harassment in trucking. You could go speak on sexual harassment in trucking. You could write a book about sexual harassment and abuse in trucking.

    Truckers hear women being degraded daily over the CB radio. Someone needs to educate both men and women getting into trucking what to expect and how to stop it.

    Kathleen Wells

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  7. Pingback: Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk” « TruckerDesiree

  8. As a woman driver, I have heard derogatory comments made about women in general, and about me in particular. That I should go home and stay in the kitchen, that “this is a ‘man’s’ job, and there’s no place for women,” that women drivers are bad, that if I can’t do X or Y, I shouldn’t be in the profession (X or Y being tasks that typically require two men to do, anyway).

    I have been laughed at, abused by dispatchers, I’ve had a trailer specifically selected for my use that was out-of-service and then marked with finger-lettering in the grime with the words, “F*** You, B**ch! In the neck!” I had a dispatcher rally all my co-workers in a campaign against me when I refused to drive in dangerous conditions, I’ve been written up for doing what was legally my choice to do (refuse to drive in dangerous conditions), one dispatcher refused to send me directly home when my mother was given only hours to live, then became angry with me for asking HR to deal with the situation, and was saying how I had hurt her by saying she was “insensitive,” and then a few weeks later this same dispatcher implied I had Alzheimer’s and said “this job may be too much for you at your age..” (yeah, she SAID that!).

    I’ve had my miles cut, I’ve had an entire paycheck stolen, I’ve had the owner of the company tell me I’m not doing my job, after having spent 18 hours on repairs and driving, and he said that I HAD BETTER be at the delivery on time (1000 miles and 24 hours later). It just goes on and on and on….

    I have driven for 12 years. I got my very first ticket in New Jersey in 08, and that shouldn’t have happened. New Jersey is cash-strapped though, so I understand why it happened.

    I have been home, out of a job for over a year, and although there are a lot of times I still miss my work, I remember the times that I was made to feel like a disgusting little bug, and the big flyswatter was hovering in sight. My last incident with the company (and these incidents were with some assorted companies I worked for), was when my supervisor “suggested” (ie, instructed) I should lie on my log book so that after having been up all day, I could go pick up a load illegally, and then drive all night to get to a delivery. This from a company that purports to be among the most strict adherents to the letter of the law, after a tragic major accident that killed several people. My sleep had become so disrupted over the years, that I was battling for my health. I suspected I might have high blood pressure, and it turned out to be the case. The company unceremoniously sent me home, and I took with me all that I could physically manage myself. I expected the rest of my stuff (including my late husband’s radio, a relic, but sentimental to me) to be well cared for. After some one-sided dialogue, with me on the short end of the stick, the company reported to me that they had discarded all of my belongings. I lost over $4000 in personal property – clothes, tools, equipment, reference material, personal stuff….

    The pressure to comply with unreasonable demands, coupled with bullying from within the company and without has taken a major toll on me. But asking for compensation for the damage is out of the question. The companies all have access to resources I don’t have. There is no justice for the little person here.

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  9. Dear “Small Voice”

    I know exactly what you are saying. When you have in-house trucking industry women who also downplay and shift blame it is as if you have been kicked in the stomach after being kicked in the teeth.

    Trucking is a timeconsuming, life consuming job that I was happy to do but the industry bullying is ridiculous. These people seem to enjoy degrading drivers and when I saw how broad the issue was , that it was a pattern in many carriers I knew there was something more going on.

    The trucking industry has used this method to control and increase turnover and they have encouraged an atmosphere to utilize supervisory staff to who fit well in a position to crush the spirit of another person.

    For Women this generally comes in the forms you mention and sometimes worse.

    You did not say how long ago this occured. I do know of a case that Paul Taylor of the Trucker Justice Center took on Pro Bono for a gal who was being forced to drive in bad weather and she refused, she was later fired. He did win that case. There is also the recent Karen Shank case of $1.7M that was won against CRST. So while it might seem one little person cannot fight them at first, I want you to know it is possible but the road is not easy because it is long. More drivers must know that they can fight back and win. It takes incredible stamina to fight these organizations who seek to cover up abuse YES! it is possible
    .If you would like to share your story to other Women in our Facebook group called “Real Women Truckers” or you would like information from me on finding legal resouces etc., Please write to me at TruckerDesiree@gmail.com

    Thanks for posting you comments here.
    Desiree Wood

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