The Tireless Role of The Modern Lumper

The Tireless Role of the Modern Lumper

Definition of lumper according to Merriam-Webster

lumper

noun | lump·er |ˈləm-pər |

“a laborer who handles freight or cargo”

I’m not going to pretend that I know better than Merriam-Webster, but if you asked – I could confidently tell you that this definition is glaringly incorrect and lacking the full, modern meaning.

Before my in-depth research in the industry allowed me to spend a tremendous amount of time with this group – some of the most patient and hardest working people in the freight handling industry might I add – that definition would have stood, but not anymore.

Experts from all areas of the trucking industry will often focus on hot topics such as driver shortages and the limited amount of hours that drivers are allowed to be on the road – While government regulators always counter those arguments with the multiple dangers of driver fatigue.   Neither side has ever considered the true cause.   Which individual ties all those challenges together, and without proper attention this person also possesses the power to bring a troubling situation from bad to worse?

If you said the freight handlers or lumpers, you would be right. With all due respect, let me explain.

  • On one side, if drivers always have to handle their own freight, mathematically speaking – they would then be spending less time on their routes. The physical effects can also be quite taxing on their health.   Given that 7% of drivers are women, and many others work tirelessly with physical ailments and limitations – this demanding duty could really force them to limit their options when choosing which loads to pull.

 

  • On the other side, the government is not entirely wrong in their argument. Without the freight handling industry, driver fatigue would be a bigger problem. You can simply imagine that a driver spends all day driving a forty thousand pound load for miles and miles with the biggest reward in mind – A chance to finally rest at the end of his route.   This peace ends quickly when he hears upon arrival that he has to pull and count all that freight in the trailer.

In my opinion, some of the safety records that most trucking companies, shippers and the rest of us on the interstate are currently enjoying, should be credited to the freight handling industry.

Those guys on the docks of America go to work everyday, many times in temperature controlled facilities, where they have to be freight handlers and therapists for drivers that have been driving all day with no one to talk to – all while making sure the products that we use every day are in perfect condition.

If you pay much attention to this post, you can see my struggle with the terms Freight-Handler and Lumper. A few decades back, the term lumper was attached to a couple of guys (legal or illegal) standing on the street corner, who would then be “hired” by a trucker to help unload a trailer. (I will not argue that was the case some of the time.)

But to think that the system has not grown into a legitimate industry would be a case of ignorance. It’s a well-formed and organized service with regulations that protect the men and women doing the work. I have witnessed firsthand the supervisors of those companies handing out benefit packages to their employees. Needless to say, it’s come a long way.

I have the opportunity every day to speak with people from the logistics industry, from the guys handling the freight, all the way up to the executive at management level. I am here to tell you that they are loyal servants of the supply chain as a whole, and they deserve our appreciation and respect.   Furthermore, they deserve an update to the definition of the word Lumper, so once again they can use the title if they so chose with pride and honor.

Akmann Van-Mary

MyLumper | mylumper.com

 

What Truck Drivers Really Mean When They Say They Hate Lumpers

For the last couple months, my team and I have been deeply immersed in a topic that has been long despised by most truckers. The Lumper fee, Through our digging, we interviewed countless truckers to find out the true meaning behind their lack of appreciation for the lumper industry, and what we have discovered is an answer that was once lost in translation.

Although lumpers are needed in order for truckers to make their jobs safer and more efficient, for some reason or another, drivers can’t seem to appreciate the service.

At one of the last truck stops in Atlanta, we discussed the lumper service issue with a number of drivers and asked them to express their feelings about the importance of the lumpers and also to rate their value in the trucking industry.   We realized that the great majority did not want to carry any freight that requires them to unload it themselves, nor did they like to select freight that requires the use of a lumper, which left us in a quandary. What other option remains?

After spending most of the day interviewing the drivers, we had found one anomaly. In speaking to a trucker named Trey, I learned quite a bit of his backstory. He’s been driving with his wife (who is also a trucker) for the past decade, loves trucking, and he enjoys crochet. He’s currently working on a beautiful blanket for his mother. This driver in particular had a back injury from a previous job, which automatically disqualified him from unloading any of his own loads – yet he can’t stand the idea of using a lumper. My team and I decided that if we are going to learn anything about why the truckers have such intolerance for the lumper industry, then Trey will lead us to our 1st breadcrumb.

 

MyLumper: How has your load volume changed from last year?

Trey: Last year was much better.

ML: Besides being a dry load only driver, is there anything else that makes your market share less than others?

Trey: I refuse to carry any loads that require a lumper.

ML: Why? Would you rather unload the trailer yourself?

Trey: No, actually because of my past injury, I can’t unload any freight myself.

 

At that point we were puzzled, here’s a trucker that cannot unload his own trailer even when given the option – yet still can’t stand the idea of using a lumper.

 

ML: How do you get your freight unloaded when you arrive at the receiver’s dock?

Trey: I have the receiver at the warehouse help unload me.

ML: What is the difference between getting unloaded by the warehouse receiver or by the lumper? As we all know, even though you have to pay the lumper – you will get reimbursed for that expense.

Trey: I don’t want to have to carry cash or deal with calling dispatch for checks.

Lumpers, Lumper Fees, Pay Lumpers, Truckers, Mylumper, LoadingEureka.   As it turns out, the drivers truly don’t care about whether they are unloaded by a lumper service or the warehouse employees. They believe their job is to pick up and deliver freight – and anything in between should be the responsibility of the shipper or broker. Their goal is simply to avoid calling dispatchers for an express-code or having to carry the cash themselves, as reimbursement for cash receipts isn’t enticing enough when those little pieces of paper seem to get lost so easily.

We feel encouraged that those great drivers have reinforced our solution to this particular matter. Our lumper payment service was never mentioned to them, as we wanted an unbiased response to our questions.

We’ve now added more shippers to our Early Access Clients (EAC) database to experience firsthand the change. MyLumper will be responsible for paying lumper fees on behalf of our shippers/carriers and 3PL clients by using our MyLumper payment platform, therefore removing the burden from our truckers. In the end, drivers don’t hate the lumper services, the simply can’t stand the current payment system – and that is all about to change.

 

The driver’s name has been changed to protect identity.

MyLumper

Akmann Van-Mary