D.C. Protest Organizers Push White House for Financial Relief for Small Business Truckers
Washington D.C. – Multiple leaders of the recent trucker protest in Washington D.C. are now pushing the Trump Administration for direct financial assistance in the face of the COVID-19 recession.
On Thursday, New Jersey trucker Rick Santiago met with top Trump Administration officials by phone to discuss the need for immediate financial relief for small business truckers.
Santiago, who spearheaded the D.C. rally with a series of social media videos intended to expose alleged unscrupulous business practices of freight brokers, tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) it is time for lawmakers to provide “design a program specifically for the motor carriers.”
Pointing to the challenges many truckers had securing loans from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Santiago says he is “going to try to work out something specifically for small business truckers.”
While he could not divulge the specifics of his discussions with White House officials today, he says the Administration seems to be taking the matter seriously.
“I think this is the immediate solution,” Santiago told TNN. “At least let’s get these guys some money so we can live to fight another day.”
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Joining Santiago in a new call for direct financial assistance is C.J. Karman.
Karman is the founder of Ezlogz, and one of the two representatives of the D.C. protest that met with President Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, and Jim Mullen, Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week at the White House.
In a letter sent to Meadows on Thursday, Karman also urged the Trump Administration to provide some direct financial relief.
“Finally, we have a huge number of independent owner-operators who work for themselves and support their families who do not qualify for most of the relief packages,” Karman wrote. “Is there something that could be done to help direct temporary support and relief to these people?”
Karman also outlined numerous recommendations in the letter related to freight broker reforms including:
1. Broker Transparency: The requirements of 371.3 should be made non-waivable and the required information should be required to be produced to the prospective carrier and or driver before the load is booked. (We believe this how 371.3 already reads, but that should be clarified/enforced.)
2. Broker Collusion: The FMCSA should work with appropriate authorities to investigate price-fixing and other collusion between the large brokers.
3. Double-Brokering: Rules should be enacted to prohibit the act of “double-brokering” where loads are brokered from one broker to another before reaching the drivers.
According to Karman, during the White House meeting, Meadows directed Mullen to prepare a proposal to include three recommendations on how the Agency plans to solve the transparency issue, as well as to provide five broker set up packages which contain language requiring carriers to waive its rights to review the transaction record as a condition of doing business.
Karman is now requesting to review the Agency’s recommendations.
He asked, “Would it be possible to know what recommendations the FMCSA has already made and what it is currently pursuing? This would help us better understand what steps are needed and where we can help in the process.”
It is unclear if the FMCSA has put forward these recommendations to the White House as of yet.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reached out to the Agency regarding this matter and the FMCSA has been in communication, though they have yet to issue a formal statement to TNN.
However, during a webinar hosted by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) on Thursday, Mullen indicated the Agency has yet to receive a single complaint about freight brokers violating federal transparency regulations.
“I can’t state enough that we don’t have a specific violation in front of us on 371.3 in spite of essentially asking for it,” he said.
Further, Mullen questioned the Agency’s authority to even enforce the now famous 371.3 federal regulation which requires freight brokers to keep records of each transaction and provide those records, upon request, to each party of the transaction including the motor carrier.
Read more of what Mullen had to say HERE.
TransportationNation.com will continue to bring you the latest developments on this ongoing story.
Photos courtesy Rick Santiago and C.J. Karman