The Tireless Role of The Modern Lumper
by Akmann Van-Mary 08 Feb.
The Tireless Role of the Modern Lumper
Definition of lumper according to Merriam-Webster
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.