Belabored: Trucker Supply Crisis? With Steve Viscelli

Belabored: Trucker Supply Crisis? With Steve Viscelli

Long-haul trucking went from being one of the best blue-collar jobs to one of the toughest in America. What does this transformation mean for the ongoing supply chain crisis?

Truck drivers helping to relieve supply chain pressures in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 22, 2021 (George Frey/Getty Images)

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The holidays are over, the Omicron wave is beginning to subside, but the “supply chain crisis” continues, and so this week we’re returning to our ongoing occasional series on the workers who make up that thing called the “supply chain.” We’re joined by Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies freight transportation—in other words, trucking. His book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream, explains how long-haul trucking went from being one of the best blue-collar jobs to one of the toughest, and his current research looks into the future of driverless trucks as well as energy-efficient trucking. We talk about trucking, deregulation, the so-called driver shortage, and much more.

We also look into the latest numbers on union membership in America with Margaret Poydock of the Economic Policy Institute (spoiler: it’s not good), the battle over gig work in Massachusetts, the end of the King Soopers strike, and more moves toward a four-day work week. For Argh, we consider nursing home workers’ striking for union recognition, and what happens when experimental art collectives unionize.

Thank you for listening to our 239th episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.

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Matt Stout and John Hilliard, Lyft makes largest one-time political donation in Massachusetts history, fueling gig worker ballot fight, Boston Globe

Whitney Kimball, Rideshare Drivers Could Make as Little as $4.82 Per Hour if Uber Gets Its Labor Law in Massachusetts, Study Finds, Gizmodo

Hannah Finnie, Bureau of Labor Statistics releases annual data on union membership in the United States, On Labor

Latest data release on unionization is a wake-up call to lawmakers: We must fix our broken system of labor law, Economic Policy Institute

Lanie Lee Cook, King Soopers workers ratify new ‘industry-leading’ contract, KDVR

Alex N. Press, Kroger Employees in Colorado Have Had Enough — Thousands Are Now on Strike, Jacobin

Peter Flanagan, Four-Day Work Week Pilot Launches in U.K. With At Least 30 Companies Taking Part, Bloomberg

Jasper Jolly, Canon’s UK arm to become latest company to trial four-day week, Guardian


Steve Viscelli, Faculty Fellow at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania

Urban Truck Ports, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

Driverless Report, UC Berkeley Labor Center

Steve Viscelli, Will Robotic Trucks Be “Sweatshops on Wheels”?, Issues in Science and Technology

Ryan Haney, Review: The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream, Labor Notes

Eric Miller, California Trucking Association Takes AB 5 Case to Supreme Court, Transport Topics

Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Sarah: Vanessa Veselka, I’m a Longtime Union Organizer. But I Had Never Seen Anything Like This, New York Times

Michelle: Adele Oliveira, What Happened When a Trippy Art Collective Hit It Big—Then Unionized, New Republic

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