Latinas in transportation found their place - in 18-wheel-drive driver's seats

Tracy Barajas, a California truck driver, Tracy Barajas says: “I never thought I would be able to drive a truck.


Vanessa Rivas was a girl who found her dolls boring and truck lovers. So, as the coronavirus was plagued by anxiety over the loss of his job, he learned to be a truck driver.

There was a lot of study time, because the car offices were closed by the Covid-19. Pleasing her parents was a major obstacle. My father said "no," and my mother said, "I have never." But Rivas, 34, from Los Angeles, did just that.

"My father should have understood that it is no longer a man's world when it comes to trucks," said Rivas, who is training to get his license.

Only 6.6 percent of truck drivers are women, but Latinas are increasingly joining all workers in other industries. An estimated 12.5 million, about 16 percent of all working women, according to the Department of Labor.

Although many people oppose the allegations of shortage of truck drivers, jobs are being charged as good opportunities for Latinas and other women. The reality is very complex in an industry where high profits are often the result of poor wages and treatment.

Rivas is working on his car finance business while continuing to try to get his truck driver's license. Alyson Aliano of NBC news

Photo: Vanessa Rivas

"My father should have understood that it is no longer a human world when it comes to trucks," said Rivas, who is still training to get his license. Alyson Aliano of NBC News

What may seem like an underdevelopment to a low-wage worker in the service industry actually comes with hidden costs and risks of assault and harassment. Making $ 80,000 a year or more is a solid pull, but higher wages can mean hours and days away from family. It can also take years to reach that level of income.

The Latina who spoke of their experience said that taking trucks brought them significant benefits and challenges.

"You can change your life and make a lot of money in this job, and you will feel like you have a purpose in life," said Desiree Wood, president of Real Women in Trucking, which promotes safety, training and transparency in the industry. women in trucks.

But Wood warned that some companies were saying there were a shortage of drivers to bring in more women and a handful of “those who were desperate to get a job or other jobs where they did not really get paid.”

The unemployment rate for Latin-Americans aged 20 and over at the end of October was 5.5 percent, about 57.8 percent of all Latin-speaking people in the workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Latinas' weekly income was $ 705 last year, which puts them at a lower income level. The average weekly wage for Asian men - up - was $ 1,447, reports BLS.

Congress is trying to put pressure on the industry to hire more women.

Investment and Jobs Investment Act, which President Joe Biden signed on Nov. 15, directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create a volunteer advisory board to increase the employment and retention of women in trucks.

Meanwhile, Rivas is still working on his car finance business while trying to get his truck driver's license.

He said he was told he could make $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 a week, depending on how many hours he was willing to work, and $ 3,000 to $ 4,000 if he left the country.

"I did not know how much money could be spent in one week," he said.

Doubtful parents encourage friends

Latinas, who have entered the trucking industry, say the new jobs mean better pay and take them out of work that they see as unsatisfactory and give them a sense of accomplishment and success.

Although some were opposed to their spouses or other relatives, they claimed that male friends, classmates (who were very male) and other important people often encouraged them to get into truck driving, join them on the road or help train them.

"I did not know that such a thing could happen in one week," Rivas said. Alyson Aliano of NBC News / Alyson Aliano of NBC News

With the closure of Covid, Latinas' employment is growing faster than Spanish men, says Mónica García-Pérez, a professor of economics at St. Petersburg.

To date, truck transport does not attract Latinas nationally, but there may be regional increases in warehouses and distribution points, said García-Pérez.

Those who re-enter the workforce appear to be filling jobs in the male-dominated fields, such as packing and moving, he said.

Antoinette McIntosh, 42, was working as a financial advisor at East Coast Bank when the market crashed in 2008. His job and the salary of six people disappeared overnight.