MARKHAM, ILLINOIS --
Wearing a protective suit for handling harmful substances, Alex Topolse poses for a portrait at a truck stop in Markham, Ill. on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015.
After years of spending long hours behind the wheel without seeing their paychecks grow, truck drivers now find themselves at the center of a bidding war. Many freight haulers have in the past year pushed through their biggest raises in decades. Truck-stop job boards and satellite radio airwaves are saturated with want ads, some advertising sign-on bonuses topping $5,000 and even free bus tickets to drivers willing to switch employers. Companies are tricking out their fleets with satellite televisions and other amenities to make life on the road a little more comfortable. It’s a bonanza for drivers like Alex Topolse. The 35-year-old Auburn, Maine, resident said he went from flipping burgers to handling a tanker truck hauling chemicals in 2013. He said he liked the work but jumped to a different company that allowed him to spend more time at home—and offered a 50% raise. He said he is on track to pull in nearly $70,000 this year. “It was a lot better income for doing basically the same job, hauling the same product and going to the same customers,” Mr. Topolse said. “It just made sense.”
CREDIT: Alyssa Schukar for The Wall Street Journal