CCJ Daily Dispatch, May 8: Trucking group asks Congress for greater broker transparency

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Updated May 11, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, May 8, 2020: 

OOIDA calls for greater broker transparency
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer penned a letter to Congress dated May 6 that asks for two specific changes to existing regulations around the record-keeping requirements of transportation intermediaries.

Spencer urged lawmakers to include the following changes to the current provisions in the next, “Phase 4” COVID-19 crisis relief effort, currently being debated in Congress:

(1) Require brokers to immediately provide an electronic copy of each transaction record as required by 49 CFR 371.3 once the contractual service has been completed. No exceptions.

(2) Explicitly prohibit brokers from including any provision in their contracts that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records as required by 49 CFR 371.3.

Brokers, Spencer said, in some instances get around carriers’ review attempts by including waiver language in broker-carrier contracts, where carriers give up their right to review such records by signing. Spencer outlined an example of language from “one of the nation’s largest brokers. … OOIDA discourages [signing away the right to review], but the practice is so prevalent that truckers often have no other choice if they want to haul a brokered load.”

There’s a reason that kind of contract language is prevalent, said Transportation Intermediaries Association President Robert Voltmann. Most shippers themselves “have strict non-disclosure requirements in their contracts” with brokers, necessitating brokers to shield themselves from any requirement to disclose.

Carrier insistence on reviewing transaction records, Voltmann said, “will result in our members not being able to utilize those carriers to meet the shipping needs of those shippers.”

OOIDA contends that efforts to evade the right to review are “increasingly resulting in carriers assuming – fairly or not – that brokers have something to hide,” Spencer said.

TIA’s Voltmann said the changes OOIDA is asking for are unnecessary. He also implies that the current right to review itself is an outdated reg written for a different time, the mid-1960s when “brokered rates were often quoted as a percent of the payment.”

“That is not the case today,” he said, when such rates are negotiated in fixed amounts, he said. “Either the carrier accepts the offered amount or they don’t. It’s the economy driving rates down, not the broker.”

OOIDA’s letter comes at a time when the coronavirus crisis has sent demand for trucking to exceedingly low levels.

International, Triumph providing masks, hand sanitizer for drivers
International Truck, Triumph Business Capital and TriumphPay have purchased more than $75,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be distributed to truck drivers. Each company purchased $25,000 of PPE supplies that will be distributed at select International Truck dealerships.

“Thanks to International Truck, we are not only able to get these goods into the hands of drivers who need it most but are also able to add to the total amount of PPE supplied,” said Jordan Graft, President of TriumphPay.

More than 6,500 masks and 6,000 eight-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer will be handed out to truckers at dealerships, while supplies last, along with a thank-you note from International Truck employees.

“Masks and disinfectants are still sparse at stores, making it difficult for drivers to protect themselves,” said Michael Cancelliere, president of Truck for Navistar. “On the heels of our joint initiative with our dealer network to supply more than 10,000 meals for truckers, we’re fortunate to partner with Triumph Business Capital and TriumphPay to make it easier for drivers to obtain necessary PPE in a location that’s safe for them, their vehicle and load.”

New truck routing program available from Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, along with the Idaho National Laboratory, launched this week a new tool for truck drivers to assist in route planning.

The free Commercial Routing Assistance web-based app allows users to input their starting point and destination, then plots multiple routing options and shows any restrictions in place in states along the route, such as those in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The nation’s critical infrastructure and essential services rely on the ability to move goods along our transportation systems, and disruptions can cause supply chain issues and ripple effects across the country, said Bob Kolasky who leads CISA’s National Risk Management Center. “This app will help the trucking industry operate effectively and efficiently and prepare for emergency situations in order to ensure the delivery of goods and resources to government, industry and the American public.”

The service currently shows which states have and don’t have a CDL expiration extension, a CDL medical grace period, increased size and weight limits and more.