Monday, May 20, 2024

Check Call: The 4-day workweek and the supply chain

Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

Inside this edition: What a 32-hour workweek looks like for the supply chain; the weight of Easter candy; and Mexico collects another auto manufacturer. 


Picture this, it’s 1926, when Henry Ford popularized the 40-hour workweek. Fast-forward to 1940, when the 40-hour workweek became U.S. law. Then just in March, California Rep. Mark Takano introduced the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act in Congress to shorten the standard workweek from 40 to 32 hours. This would mean shorter workweeks or more overtime pay for hourly workers. The bill is sitting in the Education and Workforce Committee before it can even dream of becoming law. 

It begs the question: What would a 32-hour workweek look like in the supply chain industry? If freight brokers are already working on call, would the operations staff have to work 32 hours on rotation so there is always some coverage or does flexible scheduling just become the norm for everyone? For warehouse and hourly workers, does eight hours of overtime every week remain the norm or do efficient scheduling and warehouse management become fundamentally different? As for drivers, are their hours of service adjusted or are they the exception to the rule as a limitation to 32 hours a week would cut their driving ability in half as most drivers currently average 40-60 hours a week?  

Is this the competitive advantage to set a company apart when it comes to attracting and retaining good employees? Is it even a possibility? Does it leave salaried workers to pick up the slack from hourly workers? Governments in the U.K., Iceland, Japan, Spain, New Zealand and more are adopting  four-day workweeks. It seems like it’s more and more possible. It would just take a lot of creativity and planning to make it a reality for the supply chain. If you’ve already cracked the code on four-day workweeks, let me know. 

Image: quickmeme

The second-most candy-filled holiday is right around the corner. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are planning to spend more than $24 billion on Easter this year —  almost a $4 million increase from last year. The average household is anticipated to spend $192, which is the highest amount to date for any Easter holiday. The top categories and spend are candy, $3.3 billion; gifts, $3.8 billion; and food, $7.3 billion, all according to the NRF. 

With the numbers laid out, it’s a wonder what all happens to get to that $24 billion mark. For candy alone, the journey often starts in West Africa, South America or Indonesia and then travels all over the world to be turned into chocolate bunnies. Americans buy over 120 million pounds of candy for Easter. Roughly 3,000 full truckloads of candy are running all over the country to make sure they are delivered in time. That’s not including any baskets, fake grass or toys. What a busy little Easter bunny. 

Market Check. The Reefer Outbound Tender Rejection Index shows the areas of the U.S. where refrigerated freight is getting rejected at the highest levels. North and South Dakota are one of the hardest areas to source capacity. Given that Iowa is also in the high rejection mix, the poultry industry is keeping demand elevated for these markets. If the North maintains its reefer demand, it could potentially affect produce season in the South as rates and relationships are strong. 


Who’s with whom? Mexico gets another friend. Chinese automaker Jetour is planning on building a $3 billion automotive plant in Mexico next year. The cool thing about this new facility is that it will make combustion cars for South Africa and electric cars for the U.S. The actual location of this plant is still up in the air but it’s anticipated to be in central Mexico. If I had to put money on it, I’d say it will be near Monterrey, where other car manufacturers are also building facilities. 

In other news, Burns Logistics got passed down a generation. Ed Burns Jr. has stepped into the CEO role to replace his father, “Big Ed,” the founder of Burns Logistics. Big Ed has not fully stepped away from the company as he transitions to the chief relationship officer, focusing on building relationships with shippers and carriers. As quoted in FreightWaves’ Mark Solomon’s article, “I am honored and humbled to step into the role of CEO,” said Burns the younger. “My father has built an incredible company, and I am excited to continue his legacy. Our team is committed to providing our carrier clients and shipper customers with exceptional service, and we will continue to invest in innovative technologies that improve our operations.”

The more you know

The freight market downturn is a year old. When will the market turn around? 

Hair drug-testing guidelines sent to White House

Borderlands: RXO invests $30M, expands logistics operation in South Texas 

Ship fuel cost way down from war peak, but ‘green’ fallout looms

The post Check Call: The 4-day workweek and the supply chain appeared first on FreightWaves.

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