On-the-job training for truck drivers can be costly if they drop out

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Once licensed, drivers haul real loads for their new employers. For generally 4 to 12 weeks, they are accompanied by a trainer. They earn a flat weekly rate, varying by company but often $500 to $800, according to company websites. Mr England said his company’s salary was $560 a week in 2019 and around $784 today.

Trainers can be barely trained themselves, often only needing six months of experience, and they are allowed to sleep in the back while the new driver is alone in the cab, according to industry experts and many companies.

Ms Jeschke said she completed her training without being able to back down, a crucial skill for truck drivers. She said she spent a week at a truck stop, unpaid, waiting for another driver because she didn’t yet have the expertise to pick up a load on her own.

Frustrated with working conditions and low pay, she and Ms Skamser left CR England before their contracts ended and went to work for another trucking company, Werner Enterprises, where they say they received better training.

“I have no words for how serious it was,” Ms Jeschke said. “They don’t care about drivers, only loads.”

Ms Skamser said a debt collection agency is suing her for $6,000 that CR England says she owes for her training.

It’s reasonable for companies to want to recoup the cost of training an individual, said Stewart J. Schwab, a professor at Cornell Law School. Yet, he noted, like non-competition clauses, these contracts can significantly restrict worker mobility and impede competition. In 2021, Mr. Schwab worked on a bill on restrictive employment contracts, such as those used by trucking companies, with the Uniform Law Commission, a nonpartisan organization that drafts laws for states.

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