- The White House recruited teams of executives and thought leaders from across industries to form multiple Great American Economic Revival Groups, the president announced Tuesday. But representation for small business is lacking.
- The program creates 17 groups to work with the administration and "chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity," according to a White House press release. The transportation group includes FedEx, United Airlines, UPS, J.B. Hunt, YRC Worldwide, Crowley Maritime, Uber, DHL, LDJ Global Strategies and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
- "Unfortunately, the White House failed to include a representative of owner-operators and small-business truckers," the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) wrote in a call to action to members after the White House announcement, emailed to Transport Dive. The association is calling on its members to “reach out and demand their voices be added” to the group, according to OOIDA media outlet Land Line.
"We’re extremely disappointed the White House has ignored small trucking businesses in favor of publicly traded mega carriers, who certainly won’t use their positions to address your needs," OOIDA wrote in the call to action. "Hell, most don’t even know what the needs of owner-operators or professional drivers are under normal circumstances, let alone during a national crisis."
UPS said CEO David Abney's membership in the group would help develop a plan to "allow for American businesses, big and small, to reopen safely — sharing methods and processes that have kept UPSers safe throughout this pandemic," according to a press release Friday.
How a trucking company is fairing during the pandemic, and will fair in the early stages of economic recovery, largely depends on what it makes its living hauling.
For some large fleets with diverse portfolios, such as J.B. Hunt (President and CEO John Roberts III is appointed to Trump's group), only parts of the business are facing headwinds. During the first quarter of 2020, J.B. Hunt's food-related business went up 16% and agricultural deliveries were "consistent," while business regarding office furniture and automotive supplies fell.
FedEx (CEO Fred Smith is representing the company in the group) issued an undisclosed number of furloughs to its Freight business this week. The segment makes up less than 10% of FedEx employees.
For smaller fleets, the entire business is parked. Many in that position have sought help through the federal coronavirus relief stimulus bill and, in particular, its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). But on Tuesday, OOIDA sent the House and Senate small business committees a letter, saying its members were having "significant difficulties in securing this assistance and encountering a chasm between what was touted when this legislation was enacted and what they are actually receiving."
The Small Businesses Administration (SBA), responsible for processing application funds for the PPP, ran out of money Thursday. A notice on the SBA website said it was no longer accepting applications, "based on available appropriations funding."
Tina Peterson, an owner-operator who drives for @FedEx Ground, completes an amazing 10 round trip hauls with her husband from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dallas, Texas, every month. pic.twitter.com/Rh4RLyWETA— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 16, 2020
A silver lining in the pandemic is the visibility the entire trucking industry is receiving. Trump honored truckers at a White House ceremony Thursday. An owner-operator who drives for FedEx Ground and workers for UPS, DHL and Big G Express shared their stories.
During his speech, Trump said owner-operators make up the majority of the industry and said the SBA asked for $250 billion to get the PPP up and running again. "They want it; they have to have it," Trump said.
OOIDA sent a call to action message to its members after the ceremony. "A day after President Trump ignored the voices of small-business truckers as part of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, the White House invited truckers to the South Lawn," it read. "If the White House doesn't want to hear from small-business truckers, your Members of Congress need to! Let them know what you're facing."
This brief has been updated to include a statement from UPS.