Rail unions agree to deal, likely avoid strike

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022:

Rail labor unions agree to deal

Early Thursday morning U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced that, following 20 hours of face-to-face negotiations at his office in Washington D.C., rail companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement that likely avoids an industry-wide strike tomorrow.

Walsh tweeted Thursday morning that the "agreement that balances the needs of workers, businesses, and our nation’s economy."

President Joe Biden called the agreement "a win for the economy and for the American people. Rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs."

Pressure had been mounting on the White House to help side-step a potential nationwide railroad strike Friday morning that could have a polar vortex-like effect – or worse – on the U.S. supply chain. The rail industry last went on strike in 1991, a national work stoppage that lasted a day before Congress intervened. The following year, a walkout at USX by members of the International Association of Machinists spread nationally and lasted about two days before Congress, again, intervened. 

Walsh's office hosted rails two largest unions and the rail companies yesterday in an effort to keep all parties at the bargaining table and avoid a strike that trucking experts say would have affected on-highway transport "quickly" if not "immediately." 

CFI earns Cargo Security Award

CFI, a subsidiary of Heartland Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 45), has won the 2021 Best in Cargo Security Award from CargoNet Group in the Large Motor Carrier Category.

CargoNet provides predictive analytics and real-time data to enhance cargo safety with a prevention and recovery network to protect both professional drivers and freight.

CFI has been a CargoNet transportation partner since 2018, securing transportation services across North America. This is the second time CFI has won Best in Cargo Security recognition from CargoNet. So far in 2022, CFI asset services have experienced 0 cargo theft.

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“We take cargo security, fraud reporting and theft recovery seriously for each of the 5,000 asset-based loads we dispatch weekly,” said CFI President Greg Orr. “CargoNet provides the tools and information that helps us stay one step ahead of cargo thieves.”

CargoNet cited CFI for overall exemplary performance, specifically calling out its security and fraud prevention program. The program employs sophisticated machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics to identify and anticipate potential cargo theft threats.

CFI’s High Security Program was also recognized for its active management of high-security cargoes, utilizing protocols and systems that maintain continual enroute driver communication and proactively alert the driver to high-theft areas to avoid.

“CFI’s active engagement and participation in CargoNet’s security education awareness programs helped them earn the 2021 ‘Best in Cargo Security’ award. It’s always a challenge for intermediaries to justify a return on their security investment,” said Ryan Shepherd, general manager, CargoNet. “CFI clearly understands the importance of cargo security and continually applies the appropriate resources to protect its customers’ freight,” he added.

Wabash launches new intelligent thermal management sub-brand

Wabash recently introduced Wabash Acutherm, a new portfolio of offerings designed for intelligent thermal management.

Wabash Acutherm thermal solutions provide enhanced levels of thermal efficiency and management for both hot and cold applications, the company said. With superior thermal capability and structural integrity, temperature states can be maintained regardless of application or environmental conditions.

“Wabash Acutherm is a testament of our commitment to meeting the demands of the cold chain market, as well as other areas of transportation where temperature control is critical to food safety and consumer health,” said Wabash President and Chief Executive Officer Brent Yeagy. “We’re keeping a close pulse on the evolving needs of our customers for superior thermal solutions that deliver versatility and, ultimately, operational and financial benefits.”

Currently, the new product line consists of Wabash Acutherm refrigerated van trailers with EcoNex Technology, Acutherm refrigerated freight delivery bodies, Acutherm refrigerated freight delivery bodies with EcoNex Technology, Acutherm sanitary tank trailers and Acutherm refrigerated cargo van inserts. The company expects to add more thermal solutions under the Acutherm sub-brand in the future.

J.J. Keller expands ELDT trainer certification to include hazmat endorsement training

To help trucking companies and their trainers provide the instruction that meets the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's entry-level driver training (ELDT) regulations, J. J. Keller & Associates now offers a hazmat endorsement option for its J. J. Keller Safe & Smart ELDT Trainer Certification Program.

“Under the ELDT rule, attaining the hazmat endorsement requires a very specific curriculum that includes theory instruction followed by a theory assessment with the driver-trainee receiving a score of at least 80%,” said Dustin Kufahl, director of driver training at J. J. Keller. “We prepare trainers to deliver this training by making sure they understand every aspect of the content, and then work hands-on with them using the exact types of vehicles their drivers will be operating in.”

J. J. Keller’s ELDT Trainer Certification Program -- Hazmat Endorsement certifies a company’s trainers to train entry-level drivers who want to earn their hazmat endorsement, allowing drivers to operate a vehicle carrying hazardous materials that require placards or to transport any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

Training topics covered include hazardous materials requirements, loading and unloading hazardous materials, emergency response procedures, safety permits, route planning and more.