The major problem with Freedom Trucking is load levels. By that I mean how do they keep enough drivers available at each location to handle varying shipment levels. As an example: Some natural disaster strikes, and the products of one customer are suddenly in increased demand, so the number of shipments suddenly increases. Does FT let the shipments pile up at the shipping depot and just use their normal number of drivers, so they bring in drivers from other locations, or hire extra drivers either on a contract basis or as permanent staff.
Not quite sure what (if any) story this is alluding to. But the current approach in the United States is that "it varies" depending on contract stipulations, "customer relations"(and $$$ involved), and various other factors.
Unless actively prohibited by contract(and it does happen), it isn't unusual for one Carrier to find themselves unable to meet the needs of their customer. Being thus aware, they will then advertise loads as being available to various "brokers" who will then in turn try to find other companies and/or drivers to handle that load(or loads).
In more extreme cases, some loads may in turn pass through multiple brokers(with each taking their own "cut") before filtering down to a company/driver willing and able to take the load. (Keep in mind, it is commission based, so only the broker/driver combo that picks up the load and subsequently delivers get paid--after delivery typically. So if you're a broker and spend 5 hours working on finding someone for a load but somebody else fills it before you do, too bad for you.)
Other ways the industry will try to balance out where the drivers are vs where the freight is to offer to pay for "Deadhead"(empty trailer)/"Bobtail"(no trailer) movements from where-ever they are starting from, to where-ever the load picks up at, or to at least pay a given rate per mile up to so many miles in order to reposition their truck for the pickup.
Freight rates while loaded will also tend to vary depending on where they go, or where they're coming from for various reasons.
For example, rates for loads going to California typically pay a little better than the industry average because a LOT of drivers refuse to operate in California, often in part due to California's CARB(California Air Resources Board) having mutual feelings about their equipment. However, once in California, rates for freight leaving the state tend to be a little lower than the national average. ("Since you're already here, and we know you don't want to leave empty...")
More rural areas typically have comparable things going on as well. So for example a load delivering to eastern Montana will pay well because the general expectation is that after delivery, that driver will be "driving empty" for the next several hundred miles looking for a load returning him/her to more populated areas. If they do manage to find one close to where they delivered, then it is just "icing on the cake" for them. (Although the "return load" will likely be at a reduced rate once again, because "We know you'd rather not drive back empty.") That said, sometimes the stars do align and you get a very nice paying load that takes you somewhere that leaves you practically on the doorstep of yet another load that is important/critical enough that your next customer is willing to pay very well for you to come take it off their hands.
The freight industry in general operates on a per load basis, how they break down the billing varies depending on the carrier of cargo type. It could be by volume, weight, quantity, or any combination thereof. They know (generally) how far a Class 8 truck will need to travel to go from point A to point B, and as such have a general ballpark of how much fuel and time it will take to make the trip.
It is up to the person accepting loads on behalf of the truck to make the determination on if a particular run is going to be worthwhile to make. Even in the Trucking Industry today, there are no shortage of "turds" that brokers have posted on load boards for drivers to take. They're "turds" in that the specific load in question is [u]going to lose money[/u] for anyone who takes the load.
But the turds exist in quantity for a couple reasons:
1) Many (independent) drivers don't fully understand their real operating costs, so they don't realize what they just signed up for. (And it's why they typically don't last long)
2) They might be losing money on that load specifically, but it's "along the way" for wherever that driver was headed anyhow, loaded or not(be that "to go home" or to go pickup a load that paid enough to justify a long trip even while empty--nothing like getting paid twice for the same work, particularly when you have permission to do that), so it helps offset other costs for them.
But getting back to more "freight to haul than drivers/trucks available" for a moment, assuming the brokers are unable to save the load. If the shipper/receiver(consignee) isn't willing to pay enough(and the trucking company doesn't consider them "a top priority" internally for whatever reason) to lure in drivers to move the freight, then the freight sits until such time that drivers do become available(pickups/deliveries happening a week or more after initially being scheduled isn't unheard of--I've been party to more than a few, those were not happy people). In rare cases, it isn't unheard of for brokers/carriers to forego their cut or even "sweeten the pot" with their own funds in order to move a load because of their valuation of the customer relationship in question, but that is very rare.
On another note as it relates specifically to the "Natural Disaster" specific demand: It isn't uncommon for drivers/companies to volunteer to help move freight which helps in disaster relief efforts. It actually is very common. Although of course there is a range as to how "volunteered" they actually are. "Operating costs" for the truck itself may or may not be included, although the driver is probably working for no or reduced pay.
As an industry, "over-the-road" drivers are typically paid by the mile, although some companies are starting to provide hourly pay under certain conditions(Loading/unloading, breakdowns, bad weather, etc), but the "industry standard" is if that truck isn't rolling, the OTR driver isn't getting paid.
Local Drivers who (normally) go home at the end of every shift are normally either paid by the hour or salaried. "Regional" Drivers who may be home every other night, or a little less frequently than even that are a bit more variable, but generally the more time they spend living in the truck, the more likely it is their pay is by the mile.
Likewise, for Over-the-road crowd, they live in their truck for the most part. They may have a "home terminal" but that doesn't mean they see it very often. For OTR, generally speaking where the driver lives doesn't matter overly much for the company, so long as the driver is "willing to go where the work is." As to downsizing a given location after loss of a major customer, relocation offers aren't unusual(assuming openings exist elsewhere), although the dollar amounts offered for doing so may not be particularly great.
That said, the company I work for has periodically offered $2,000+ bonuses for people willing to relocate to communities near certain customer Distribution Centers, and that's the generic recruiting offer. So I could imagine an actual retention offer potentially hitting some nice numbers for the right person. But then, we're in an era where Truckers don't have to look very hard to find $5,000 sign on bonuses(payable after/during the first 6 months) in general.