2127 Faculty Administration Building
656 W Kirby St.
Detroit, MI 48202-3622
Google Scholar profile
China Labor Relations
Dr. Michael H. Belzer teaches economics at Wayne State University. He teaches courses, mostly at the graduate level, in industrial organization, labor economics, and transportation economics. Dr. Belzer created and chaired the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Trucking Industry Research for more than 12 years and serves as Emeritus Member of that committee for life. He served nine years on the TRB Committee on Truck and Bus Safety and Truck and Bus Safety Committee Subcommittee on Motor Coach Bus Safety as well as nine years on the TRB Committee on Freight Transportation Economics and Regulation, in addition to service the TRB Freight Systems Group Executive Board. He has served on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Sector Council for Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities since 2006.
He is author of Sweatshops on Wheels: Winners and Losers in Trucking Deregulation (Oxford University Press, 2000), co-author of Truck Driver Occupational Safety and Health: 2003 Conference Report and Selective Literature Review (with Gregory M. Saltzman; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2007), and numerous peer-reviewed articles on trucking industry economics, labor, occupational safety and health, infrastructure, and operational issues. He testified to members of the Australian Parliament on November 21, 2011, in support of SafeRates legislation, passed in March 2012, which creates a new regulatory regime for Australia intended to take compensation out of competition in an otherwise competitive, deregulated trucking industry. He also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business on July 11, 2012, regarding safety regulation of the motor carrier industry.
He has led and completed numerous projects for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Volpe Center, including “Truck Crashes and Work-Related Factors Associated with Drivers and Motor Carriers” (completed 2009), “Impact of Compensation Practices on Number of Citations & Recordable Accidents Incurred” (2003), and “Economic Impact Assessment of Proposed Hours of Service Changes” (completed 2002). He completed a study of the North American motorcoach bus industry in August of 2009, which found dramatic safety differences between traditional U.S. intercity motor coach bus carriers and “curbside” bus companies, which have become common between major U.S. city centers (typically Chinatowns), and an expanding industry segment consisting of intercity and international bus companies serving the Spanish-speaking market associated with Mexican and Latin American clientele. His research with Prof. Peter Swan of Penn State – Harrisburg estimated the elasticity of truck operator demand for toll roads and estimated the diversion of trucks as tolls rise, and their research has shown that truck diversion to secondary roads causes safety costs that far exceed the benefits in higher tolls, suggesting that selective tolling may be bad public policy.
Most recently, Dr. Belzer is developing a strategic economic development plan to transform Southeast Michigan into a global freight transportation hub, presenting a feasibility analysis, “Transforming Michigan into a Global Freight Gateway”, at the Atlantic Gateway Initiative conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia in October 2009 and at many public and private for a since then. He is President of Great Lakes Gateway, a Michigan Not-for-Profit Corporation sponsoring the Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway, a strategic initiative to create an inland port in southeast Michigan. His organization brought major cargo owners together with the CN Railway, Halifax Port Authority, and the State of Michigan on October 11, 2011.
His consulting firm, Sound Science Inc., works on trucking and other transportation issues, especially safety, and has acted as an expert witness in numerous lawsuits involving trucking labor issues.
Research interest(s)/area of expertise
I study trucking industry issues, trucking industrial and labor relations, truck driver occupational safety and health, motor carrier safety, intermodal freight and logistics, and other issues involving the regulation of freight transportation.
The Conversation: Truck drivers are overtired, overworked and underpaid
China Labor Relations
Professor Belzer and his colleague Dr. Jinyun Liu currently are exploring research and teaching associated with Chinese trucking industry industrial relations. The trucking industry in China is so highly competitive that it suffers from a well known problem of "destructive competition". Truck drivers and small trucking business owners have no bargaining power and compete so aggressively for freight that they cannot make any money. This competition leads to low prices for consumers -- which is a good thing -- but also leads to low freight rates for drivers. These low freight rates lead to dangerous highways and extremely difficult working conditions lead to severe truck driver safety and health concerns.
- A.B., College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University, 1972
- M.S., Graduate School, Cornell University, 1990
- Ph.D., Graduate School, Cornell University, 1993
Awards and grants
$2.5 million dollars of grant and contract funding over my academic career.
- Why Do Long Distance Truck Drivers Work Extremely Long Hours?
- Work-stress factors associated with truck crashes: An exploratory analysis
Scholarly Books Published
- Sweatshops on Wheels: Winners and Losers in Trucking Deregulation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
- Gillespie, Robin Mary; Andrew Krum; Darrell Bowman; Stephanie Baker and Michael H. Belzer. 2016. Bus Operator Workstation Design for Improving Occupational Health and Safety, TCRP. Washington: Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. National Academies of Science. 127 pages. http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/174183; http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rpt_185.pdf
- Burks, Stephen V., Michael H. Belzer, KWAN Quon, Stephanie G. Pratt, and Sandra Shackelford. 2010. Trucking 101: An Industry Primer. In TRB Transportation Research Circular E-C146, edited by Transportation Research Board Committee on Trucking Industry Research (AT060). Washington: Transportation Research Board. December 22. 68 pages. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/circulars/ec146.pdf
- Truck Driver Occupational Safety and Health: 2003 Conference Report and Selective Literature Review. With Gregory M. Saltzman. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Department of Health and Human Services Publication No. 2007-120. 2007. 117 pages. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-120/
- Paying the Toll: Economic Deregulation of the Trucking Industry. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute. 1994. Briefing and Working Papers Series.
1. “Labor and Human Resources in the Freight Industry.” In Intermodal Transportation: Moving Freight in a Global Economy. Lester Hoel, Genevieve Giuliano, and Michael Meyer, editors. Publisher: Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc. May 2011.
2. "The Next Move: Metropolitan Regions and the Transformation of the Freight Transport and Distribution System." With Susan Christopherson. In Urban and Regional Policy and Its Effects, edited by Nancy Pindus, Howard Wial, and Harold Wolman. Brookings Institution Press. 2009.
3. “The Effects of Trucking Firm Financial Performance on Safety Outcomes.” With Marta S. Rocha and Daniel A. Rodriguez. In Transportation Labor Issues and Regulatory Reform. James H. Peoples and Wayne K. Talley eds. Research in Transportation Economic Series. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers, 2004, pp. 35-55.
4. “Trucking: Collective Bargaining Takes a Rocky Road.” In Collective Bargaining in the Private Sector, edited by Paul F. Clark, John T. Delaney, and Ann C. Frost. Champaign, IL: Industrial Relations Research Association, 2002, pp. 311-342.
5. “Commentary on Railroad Deregulation and Union Labor Earnings.” In Regulatory Reform and Labor Markets, edited by James Peoples. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997, pp. 155-182.
6. “Labor Market Regulation: Balancing the Benefits and Costs of Competition.” With Dale Belman. In Government Regulation of the Employment Relationship, edited by Bruce Kaufman. Madison, Wisconsin: Industrial Relations Research Association, 1997, pp. 179-220.
7. "The Motor Carrier Industry: Truckers and Teamsters under Siege." In Contemporary Collective Bargaining in the Private Sector, edited by Paula B. Voos. Madison, Wisconsin: Industrial Relations Research Association, 1994, pp. 259-302.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles Published
"Work-stress factors associated with truck crashes: An exploratory analysis." The Economic and Labour Relations Review. OnlineFirst June 6, 2018. doi:10.1177/1035304618781654
"Why Do Long Distance Truck Drivers Work Extremely Long Hours?" With Stanley A. Sedo. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 29(1), 59–79. 2018. doi:10.1177/1035304617728440
"Tolling and Economic Efficiency: Do the pecuniary benefits exceed the safety costs?" With Peter F. Swan. Public Works Management & Policy Vol.18, No.2: pp 167–84. 2013. Published online before print September 26, 2012. http://pwm.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/09/26/1087724X12461143.abstract
"Environmental determinants of obesity-associated morbidity risks for truckers." International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 5 Iss: 2 pp. 120 - 138. With Yorghos Apostolopoulos, Sevil Sönmez, and Mona M Shattell, 2012.
"Supply Chain Security: Agency Theory and Port Drayage Drivers." With Peter F. Swan. The Economic and Labour Relations Review Vol. 22, No.1: pp 1-23. May 2011.
“Worksite-Induced Morbidities Among Truck Drivers in North America: A Comprehensive Literature Review.” With Yorghos Apostolopoulos, Sevil Sönmez, and Mona M. Shattell. American Association of Occupational Health Nurses [AAOHN] Journal. Vol. 58, No. 7, 2010: pp. 285-96.
"Empirical Evidence of Toll Road Traffic Diversion and Implications for Highway Infrastructure Privatization." With Peter F. Swan. Public Works Management & Policy, Vol.14, No. 4 (April 2010): pp 351-73.
“Pay Incentives and Truck Driver Safety: A Case Study.” With Daniel A. Rodriguez and Felipe Targa. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 59, No. 2 (January 2006), pp. 205-225.
“Effects of Truck Driver Wages and Working Conditions on Highway Safety: Case Study.” With Daniel Rodríguez, Marta Rocha, and Asad J. Khattak. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, no. 1833 (Freight Policy, Economics, and Logistics; Truck Transportation), 2003, pp. 95-102.
“The Case for Strengthened Motor Carrier Hours of Service Regulations.” With Gregory M. Saltzman. Transportation Journal, Vol. 41, No. 4, Summer 2002, pp. 51-71.
“Technological Innovation and the Trucking Industry: Information Revolution and the Effect on the Work Process.” Journal of Labor Research, Vol. 23, No. 3; Summer 2002, pp. 375-396.
“Government Oversight and Union Democracy: Lessons from the Teamsters Experience.” With Richard Hurd. Journal of Labor Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer 1999, pp. 343-365.
“Collective Bargaining in the Trucking Industry: Do the Teamsters Still Count?” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 48, No. 4; July 1995, pp. 636-655.
ECO 2020: Principles of Macroeconomics
ECO 7210: Industrial Organization 2
Graduate Courses Taught at Wayne State
1. Economics 6200, Advanced Market Power and Economic Welfare; Economics of Transportation
2. Economics 6210, Advanced Regulation and Regulated Industries
3. Economics 7210, Industrial Organization II
4. Economics 7996, PhD research
5. Industrial Relations 7550, Special Topics
“Labor and Employment Relations in China”.
6. Industrial Relations 7550, Special Topics
“Introduction to Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management”.
7. Industrial Relations 8500, Capstone course for Master of Arts in Industrial Relations Program: “Strategic Analysis of North American Labor and Human Resources”.
8. Industrial Relations 7550, Special Topics
“Behavior in Bargaining”
I developed this labor-intensive course and worked closely with the adjunct professor I hired to teach the course, attending classes, participating in teaching, and monitoring and videotaping one of the two bargaining pairs.
9. Management 7750, “Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining”.
Undergraduate Courses Taught at Wayne State
1. Economics 2020, Principles of Macroeconomics
2. Economics 5200, Market Power and Economic Welfare; Economics of Transportation
3. Economics 5210, Regulation and Regulated Industries
4. Economics 4997, Honors Seminar
5. Interdisciplinary Studies Program 3620
“Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Foreign Culture: The Chinese.”
6. Interdisciplinary Studies 3480, “Work Organization”
Teaching at Colleges/Universities before Wayne State
1. University of Michigan Business School
Department of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
2. University of Minnesota Industrial Relations Center
3. National Fire Academy
4. Tompkins-Cortland Community College
Cornell University Certificate in Labor Studies
Publish or Perish Citations as of April 2016: 822scholar.google.com/citations
Google Scholar Citations as of August 18 2016: 1,169 (551 since 2013)