US Capital

Government poised to intervene in freight rail fight

From Transport Topics.

With a Dec. 9 deadline looming to reach an agreement on a nationwide freight rail contract, President Joe Biden is asking Congress to intervene in the dispute, which threatens to severely damage the U.S. economy.

“As a proud pro-labor president, I am reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement,” the White House said in a statement. “But in this case — where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families — I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.”

It is estimated that a strike would shut down 30% of the nation’s freight capacity.

Moments after Biden’s statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that legislation would be taken up in an attempt to settle the dispute this week between 115,000 union workers and the management bargaining team. Affected carriers include CSX, Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Could reclassification of gig workers result in loss of jobs?

From FreightWaves.

As efforts to crack down on employers misclassifying workers as independent contractors ramp up in Washington, a new research brief from a Mercatus Center at George Mason University senior research fellow is warning of unintended consequences should the current rules change.

“By narrowing the definition of what it means to be an independent contractor, state and federal authorities, such as those at the DOL (Department of Labor), are hoping that organizations will hire workers as employees instead of as independent workers,” wrote Liya Palagashvili. “At first glance, this change portends significant gains for workers who are reclassified as employees and receive proper benefits and protections. But there are reasons to doubt that independent workers will benefit from the new restrictions.”

Mercatus is a libertarian, free-market think tank. Palagashvili argues that instead of companies, including those such as in the last-mile delivery gig economy, shifting independent contractors to employee status, they instead will simply hire fewer workers. And some of those workers may receive lower pay to compensate for the benefits they must be provided as full-time employees.

See the complete article from FreightWaves online.

trucks on highway

Webinar: The future of Connecticut medium and heavy duty trucks and their fuels

Webinar: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Future of Connecticut Medium and Heavy Duty Trucks and their Fuels.

From Greater New Haven Clean Cities.

New technologies, policies, and incentives are poised to upend life for the owners and managers of Connecticut’s 145,000 MD and HD trucks. The US just committed to only sell and produce zero-emissions MD and HD vehicles by 2040!

Join us on Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. to find out about the carrots and sticks in truckers’ future, how to influence the State’s approach to this transition, what some early adopters are doing, and resources that can help you keep driving forward.

Register for the webinar online.

Truck Driver

East coast ports continue to gain business amid concerns over west coast labor talks

From Transport Topics.

Ongoing concern about labor and management talks regarding two separate contract negotiations and a slowing U.S. economy resulted in a big drop in container volume at two of the nation’s biggest ports on the Pacific Coast.

Year-over-year cargo numbers were down 25% at the Port of Los Angeles. In October, the port processed 678,429 20-foot-equivalent units compared with 902,643 a year ago. Through the first 10 months of 2022, Los Angeles officials say volume is down 6% from 2021’s record pace.

“With cargo owners bringing goods in early this year, our peak season was in June and July instead of September and October,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said during a media briefing. “Additionally, cargo has shifted away from the West Coast as some shippers await the conclusion of labor contract negotiations. We’ll do everything in our power to get that cargo back because the best route between Asia and the United States is straight through the Port of Los Angeles.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

trucks parked in lot

Carriers feeling cheery about on-time holiday deliveries

From Associated Press via Transport Topics.

The nation’s major shipping companies are in the best shape to get holiday shoppers’ packages delivered on time since the start of the pandemic, suggesting a return to normalcy.

Carriers like the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS project to have enough capacity after struggling under the holiday crush for the past two years, when many people hunkered down at home and turned to online shopping.

The system is already being put to the test ahead of big shopping days on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when retailers entice shoppers with bargains. Amazon held a second Prime Day in October to jump-start early holiday sales, but some shoppers are still holding out for deals in the coming days.

Brie Carere, chief customer care officer at FedEx, told the Associated Press she’s not worried: “The network is running the best that it has since COVID. We’re confident and ready.”

There are several factors at play: Consumers have gotten an early start, done more shopping in stores and moderated spending because of inflationary pressures, thus reducing shipping volume and spreading out shipments over a longer period. An extra shipping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas helps, too.

See the complete article from Associated Press via Transport Topics online.

Truckload market loosens again as tender rejections touch new low

From FreightWaves.

By now, most industry observers and analysts agree that the U.S. truckload market has slowed significantly, part of a broader goods normalization and hangover in our COVID-recovery. Multiple spot rate benchmarks have been falling for months; capacity metrics have loosened. Accepted contract loads (CLAV.USA) peaked in October 2021 and just took a sharper turn downward.

National outbound tender rejections (OTRI.USA), which measure the percentage of truckload shipments tendered by shippers that are rejected by trucking carriers, fell to a new cycle low of 5.05%. That’s a very low level last seen in May 2020, when the economy was climbing out of its lockdown-induced deep freeze. When freight is plentiful and trucking carriers have options, they reject contract shipments for higher-paying spot loads and tender rejections rise. But when the market softens, carriers worry about filling their trucks and take all the contract freight they can get, lowering tender rejections.

Trucking carriers have reacted to the slowing business environment by deploying their assets on power lanes between major markets that are still dense with activity. But that tactic has had the effect of driving tender rejections in the largest U.S. markets even lower than the national average.

See the complete article from FreightWaves online.

FMCSA logo

FMCSA announces guidance on definition of “Broker” and “Bona Fide Agent” as well as on role of dispatch services

Legal Alert from the Scopelitis Law Firm.

On November 16, 2022, FMCSA will issue guidance regarding the definition of what constitutes a “broker” and a “bona fide agent” of a broker. The guidance is not a rulemaking and will be effective immediately. However, FMCSA has nevertheless requested comment on the guidance and may issue updated guidance based on comments received. The comment period will be open for 60 days.

The guidance is issued pursuant to a mandate of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), which directed FMCSA to consider the role of so-called “dispatch services” in transportation and whether such services, which often purport to “represent” multiple motor carriers, can be considered a “bona fide agent” of a motor carrier. The question of whether a dispatch service can be a bona fide agent of a motor carrier is important because bona fide agents of motor carriers are not required to hold broker authority when acting in the capacity of an agent of the motor carrier.

Under existing regulations, a bona fide agent of a motor carrier is defined as “persons who are part of the normal organization of a motor carrier and perform duties under the carrier’s directions pursuant to a preexisting agreement which provides for a continuing relationship, precluding the exercise of discretion on the part of the agent in allocating traffic between the carrier and others.” 49 C.F.R. 371.2(b).

Moving to the actual guidance proffered by the FMCSA, one issue that was apparently raised by numerous commenters, with comment on both sides, was whether and to what extent handling of monies paid by shippers for motor carrier transportation is determinative of whether one acts as a broker. According to FMCSA, “handling money exchanged between shippers and motor carriers is a factor that strongly suggests the need for broker authority, but it is not an absolute requirement for one to be considered a broker.” Electronic load boards that do more than match loads may want to assess their status.

See the complete text of the alert from the Scopelitis firm online.

CVSA releases 2022 Brake Safety Week results

From CVSA.

Commercial motor vehicle inspectors in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. conducted 38,117 inspections of commercial motor vehicles Aug. 21-27 for Brake Safety Week. Of the total number of the commercial motor vehicles inspected, 13.3% were placed out of service for brake-related critical vehicle inspection item violations. That also means that nearly 87% of the commercial motor vehicles inspected throughout North America during Brake Safety Week did not have brake-related critical vehicle inspection item violations.

The inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week are no different from the inspections conducted any other day of the year. During the week, inspectors compiled and then submitted brake-related data to the Alliance for compilation, analysis and release.

Fifty-three Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, and Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week, which is a voluntary brake-safety inspection and enforcement initiative.

Broken out by country, inspectors in Canada inspected 1,975 commercial motor vehicles and placed 351 (17.8%) out-of-service for brake-related violations. In Mexico, 1,740 commercial motor vehicles were inspected. Forty-four (2.5%) were placed out of service. In the U.S., of the 34,402 commercial motor vehicles inspected, 4,664 (13.6%) were placed out of service (OOS).

See the complete release from CVSA online.

Diesel Fuel Pump

Diesel demand destruction starting to look inevitable, international agency says

From Transport Topics.

Unprecedented diesel prices mean that demand destruction for the fuel is probable, the International Energy Agency said.

Both the outright price of the fuel and its trading level relative to crude oil rose to records in October, jumping 70% and 425% respectively year-on-year, the Paris-based adviser said in its monthly report on the state of the oil market.

With economic growth showing signs of weakening in the face of high inflation and energy costs, those high prices could well prove self-defeating, the agency said.

“This increasingly ominous global outlook, along with very high prices, is set to significantly curtail diesel demand in 2023,” the IEA said.

The IEA forecast that global growth in diesel and gasoil will ease from 1.5 million barrels a day in 2021, to 400,000 in this year. In 2023, consumption will post a small decline “under the weight of persistently high prices, a slowing economy and despite increased gas-to-oil switching.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Used Class 8 prices surprisingly increase from September

From Transport Topics.

The average retail price for a used Class 8 in October climbed as expected year-over-year, but surprised with a very modest upturn compared with September’s price, ACT Research reported.

ACT’s preliminary data, which it will finalize with numerical values later this month, showed the year-over-year average retail price was 14% higher, with average miles and age greater by 1% and 2%, respectively.

Month-over-month, the average retail price ticked up 1%, while average miles declined 1%, and average age increased 3% from September’s readings.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.