The trucking industry is an interesting sub-culture of the general US sentiment.
On one hand you complain about the fact that the trucking industry is the last opportunity for someone without a higher education to make a living wage. The truth is that the trucking industry has had a MASSIVE shortage on drivers for the past 3–5 years. Now some of the reason for that could be due to a lack of training, or a lack of ability to obtain and keep a CDL, or the fact that life on the road can be long and lonely. But the point is, that if it is in fact the last great option for a middle class career, there is nobody taking advantage of it. Supply and demand would make you think that a driver with a CDL has negotiating leverage because many fleets are limited in growth due to a lack of drivers. Part of me wonders though if this is much like how people complain about immigrant labor taking US jobs, but no US citizen is willing to do the work; people complain about trucking jobs potentially going away, but currently nobody wants the available jobs.
With respect to autonomous trucks, I wouldn’t expect to see that for at least 10 years. First, trucking OEMs are very slow adapters (you can’t even get remote entry on most models), and they tend to want to be everything to everyone so their development timelines are very long. BUT, you could understand why their is a demand for autonomous trucking, drivers represent ~25% of a fleets operating cost and with the average public fleet having a 6–10% profit margin an autonomous truck represents a huge profit potential.
I still feel that in the future there will be a strong need for truck drivers. Hell, there is a huge demand today, if you need a job and want to see the US it might be perfect for you. You could probably even convince a large fleet to cover the costs of your training and licensing.