The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), in a push for better enforcement of existing regulations, filed a petition on May 19 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) urging immediate action to improve broker transparency.
Since the beginning of May, protests by commercial drivers have largely focused on concerns that brokers are taking advantage of independent truckers. This has also been a central theme of the demonstrations currently taking place near the White House. As a result, on May 6, OOIDA sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action to help truckers know they are being compensated fairly.
The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has resulted in significant over capacity in trucking. This has driven freight rates to historic lows. Small-business truckers who have helped keep the nation safe, healthy, and supplied through the COVID-19 pandemic are now struggling and worried that their businesses will not survive, OOIDA pointed out. One long-time problem that has been exacerbated by the current crisis is the evasion of federal transparency regulations by brokers, the association said.
“Brokers have been deliberately skirting federal transparency regulations for decades,” said Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA. “We certainly don’t think exempting yourself from federal regulations is legal, but this is precisely what is happening. It has to stop.”
Federal regulations require brokers to maintain detailed records of their transactions with motor carriers. Motor carriers have the right to view this information, which includes how much a shipper is paying a broker and how much the broker is then paying the motor carrier.
OOIDA’s petition explains that brokers often find ways of circumventing federal regulations (49 CFR §371.3) that require them to keep records of transactions and make them available to carriers upon request.
OOIDA petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA to strengthen the regulations by:
- Requiring brokers to automatically provide an electronic copy of each transaction record within 48 hours after the contractual service has been completed.
- Explicitly prohibiting brokers from including any provision in their contracts that requires a carrier to waive their rights to access the transaction records as required by 49 CFR §371.3.
“We realize some brokers might not like the regulations, but that doesn’t give them the right to blatantly skirt them without any recourse,” added Spencer. “Brokers must no longer be given a free pass to avoid compliance with federal transparency requirements and those who continue to evade the regulations must be held accountable. That is what our petition is trying to accomplish.”