Con-way Freight’Central President David L. Miller does not mince words when he talks about the importance of the National Guard and reserves to America’s national security and fighting forces. “The freedoms we enjoy as citizens of these United States are due in large part to the sacrifices of individual Guard and reserves members and their families,’ said Miller. “It is not just a responsibility, it is a duty that as business leaders we continue to support these brave men and women and their families while they are called to serve, and to help them return successfully to the workforce when their duties end.’

Miller made the remarks in testimony given recently at the US Commission on the National Guard and Reserves in Alexandria, VA. One of several business leaders serving on a panel that addressed employer support for deployed employees, he led a chorus of executives calling upon the federal government to work closely with businesses to facilitate improved support for families and members of the National Guard and reserves.

During his testimony, Miller outlined best practices implemented by Con-way Freight for assisting deployed employees and their families, encouraged other employers to follow the company’s lead and endorsed changes the Commission could recommend to Congress to help companies support their employee soldiers without incurring as much financial impact.

Con-way Freight, a less-than-truckload motor carrier and subsidiary of Con-way Inc., currently employs 28 soldiers on active duty and more than 90 members of the Guard or reserves. Miller stressed Con-way’s commitment to supporting employees called to active duty ’ highlighting that the company currently goes above and beyond national legal and regulatory requirements to financially support its soldiers and their families. Con-way Freight continues full health benefits for the families, and pays them the differential between what the employee would have earned working at Con-way and the amount of military pay received.

“These employees and their families are making a tremendous sacrifice,’ said Miller. “We are committed to supporting our deployed employees, their families and the nation, and we encourage other employers to learn from our experience and to adopt similar value systems. At the same time, we also ask that the Department of Defense consider granting a longer window of time between notification and reporting for active duty, to help us minimize disruptions to our workforce ’ such as when we have to replace a facility manager who has been called up on short notice. A wider reporting window will help businesses manage the replacement of key employees with less impact on operations and customers.’

Miller also called on the Commission to consider recommendations to Congress that would provide for tax or other incentives to companies that provide full financial support to its employees while on reserve duty. “There are costs involved when reservists are deployed, both in hiring, training and paying replacement staff, and the continuing support of that employee and the family while that employee is on active duty,’ Miller noted. “It would be appropriate for Congress to consider some form of relief for those companies that demonstrate this level of commitment.’

Miller went on to detail Con-way’s spending to support its citizen soldiers and their families upon deployment, including:

  • More than $1,100 (2006) in monthly premiums for each family’s health insurance coverage
  • More than $4,100 in military differential pay, on average, per employee in 2006
  • Approximately $4,000 to train each replacement driver sales representative and mechanic
  • $54,000-$100,000 to relocate each replacement employee required in an alternate location
  • Significant overtime pay when required due to vacancies outstripping available personnel

“If the Department of Defense moves forward as rumored to rely more fully on the Guard and reserves, the costs that the private sector would be expected to pic