- The FMCSA is asking for public comments on a petition, submitted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the OOIDA-aligned Small Business in Trucking Coalition, for rulemaking on broker transparency.
- The organizations are proposing rule changes that include requiring brokers to offer digital copies of transactions, automatically, within 48 hours after the contractual services have been completed; banning brokers from requiring a carrier to waive rights to access the records; and prohibiting brokers "from coercing or otherwise requiring parties to brokers' transactions to waive their right to review the record of the transaction as a condition for doing business."
- The FMCSA posted call for comments from the Office of the Federal Register's Public Inspection on Tuesday morning. It was published Wednesday morning in the Federal Register, with comments accepted for 60 days.
OOIDA has long sought change in transparency regulations, and it has long been opposed by brokers and their main industry group, the Transportation Intermediaries Association. The brokers' association said the proposed regulations would make shippers even more reluctant to use small, independent carriers, because their lane and pricing information would become public.
Big for-hire carriers would make off with increased spot business, because they would not necessarily have to disclose anything, if under contract, according to TIA VP of Government Affairs Chris Burroughs. Another unintended consequence of the regulations could be to cause shippers to adopt private fleets, Burroughs said.
A plunge in spot prices caused drivers to speak out. When spot prices hit a recent low of $1.32 per mile for dry van, during the week ended April 26, many drivers decided to organize and begin asking for a reform they asked for during the Great Recession, when spot prices also plunged.
The complaints of the independent truckers soon caught the attention of federal officials, including President Donald Trump. As spot prices plummeted after panic buying dissipated in April, hundreds of truckers parked their big rigs near the White House and honked their horns.
On May 18, at a meeting of restaurant officials hurt by the pandemic-related shutdowns, Trump went out of his way to mention the truckers, and to aim criticism at brokers.
"You have to help the truckers, also," said Trump, according to a White House transcript. "They work hard and they have brokers that take a lot of their business away. [Brokers] don't work so hard. [Brokers] sit in an office some place. It's not good. So I'd like to help the truckers."
The TIA's former CEO Robert Voltmann responded to the truckers' claims in a YouTube video.
"There's a lot being said about truck rates and brokers these days. Most of it isn't true," Voltmann said in the video. "No one is getting 'pre-virus' rates, like some snake oil salesman will have you believe."
Voltmann also said carriers set the market conditions by accepting the rates. He has since left the TIA.
Burroughs said the truckers' complaints are against the market conditions of the spring, which have since disappeared. Many spot prices are leading contract rates, according to Dean Croke, DAT principal analyst.
And Burroughs repeated what Voltmann said in the spring: Carriers are favored by the brokers, because the brokers need them to complete the transactions.