Truckers Prepared to Return to D.C. if FMCSA Delays Crackdown on Freight Brokers
Washington D.C. – Even though it has been only a few days since the nearly three-week rally in Washington D.C. ended, truckers are already talking about the possibility of returning.
To understand why truckers may soon head back to D.C., we must first assess what was accomplished… and what wasn’t.
After almost twenty-one days of protesting in our nation’s capital, a determined group of truckers successfully won a concession by the White House to meet with two of its representatives to discuss frustrations over low rates being offered by freight brokers amid the COVID-19 national emergency.
In a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, May 20, Mike Landis, founder of the United States Transportation Alliance (USTA) and Sergey “C.J.” Karman, founder and CEO of Ezlogz, discussed a host of issues troubling the protesters with Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, and Jim Mullen, Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
According to both Landis and Karman, Meadows took Mullen to task for not better enforcing broker transparency regulations, specifically 49 CFR 371.3.
The now famous regulation has been a hot topic of conversation in every corner of the trucking industry in recent days.
It was Mullen who first brought up the provision which requires freight brokers to provide a record of the load transaction to the carrier upon request after the delivery is made.
Karman and Landis explained to Meadows that it has become common practice in the brokerage business to require carriers to waive its rights under 371.3 in order to do business with many of the brokers.
“You know about this?” Meadows reportedly asked Mullen.
When Mullen acknowledged he was aware of the widespread practice, Meadows then incredulously questioned, “Aren’t you supposed to enforce this?”
“That’s a problem and you’re going to have to fix that,” Meadows instructed, according to Landis and Karman.
Meadows then 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.
While there was no timetable placed on Mullen, Landis and Karman indicated Meadows’s tone suggested one of urgency.
“While FMCSA doesn’t have regulatory authority over broker rates, the Agency is actively engaged in finding and evaluating solutions that may address these concerns and assist our nation’s truckers,” an FMCSA spokesperson told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) last week.
In addition to the Agency being pressed by the White House on the transparency issue, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has opened an investigation into alleged violations of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, which criminalizes corporate collusion for the purpose of price fixing.
The case has been assigned to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito with the DOJ Antitrust Division.
Karman tells TNN it is now time for the Trump Administration and the FMCSA to do its job.
“Our goal was to get DOJ to open an investigation and get the President to hear us and start working on it,” Karman said. “They know the problem and they are working on it. We believe in this Administration.”
However, rumblings have already begun that truckers may have to return to D.C. to put pressure on the FMCSA and DOJ to follow through.
Anthony Guerrero is a small fleet owner from Greensboro, NC.
He participated in numerous days of the protest and even launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the effort.
He tells TNN it may be necessary to return sooner rather than later.
“If there’s not any progress and the investigation is not going anywhere, or the White House stops communicating, then we will definitely have to go back in bigger numbers,” he stated.
Landis and Karman report that, so far, the White House and FMCSA continue to remain in contact with them and the investigation seems to be progressing well.
TNN has spoken to multiple people who have already been interviewed and each have reported the DOJ seems to be taking the matter quite seriously.
Other rally participants TNN has spoken with since the protest ended are expressing dissatisfaction the group did not push for immediate financial relief for small business truckers.
Landis and Karman maintain the group never asked such demands be made in the White House meeting.
“Everyone here agreed that we don’t want bailout money,” Landis recounted. “We just wanted to be treated fairly.”
However, concerned rally participant, Lana Danko of Aurora, MO, has been vocal in her dismay.
“My biggest protest was that the trucking industry like the railroad, hotel, and airline industries got immediate financial relief, so they don’t go out of business,” she said. “Why are we not asking President Trump for a package set up to provide immediate financial relief especially for those men and women on Constitution Avenue for their last ditch effort to save their business?”
Danko and her husband Keith operate a one-truck business and attended the protest for more than a week.
She tells TNN the group should have also received iron clad assurances before leaving the city.
“We have nothing in writing, so they can promise us the world, but as soon as they get us out of D.C. who’s to say they will follow through with it?” she questioned. “We are dealing with politicians.”
Danko is not alone in these concerns, but it remains unclear if a movement will be formed to go back to Washington to demand financial assistance be provided.
Another rally leader, Janet Sanchez, of Ocala, FL, operates a small trucking business with her husband.
She says she is willing to return to D.C., but wants to give the Trump Administration some time before doing so.
“We need to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them do what they promised they were going to do,” she told TNN last week after returning to Florida. “We’ll watch and see what happens and take it from there.”
Guerrero says he has already polled some of his followers on social media and the group seems to be in favor of waiting a month before taking any further action.
TransportationNation.com will continue to bring you the latest on this ongoing story.
Photo courtesy Anthony Guerrero