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Sleep with one eye open

By Mike Joyce
OOIDA director of legislative affairs

 

In the June issue, I wrote an article titled, “Go it alone? Not always.” I pointed out that sometimes we have great success going it alone on legislative and regulatory matters. But I also showed some examples of significant accomplishments when OOIDA has teamed up with other organizations to reach common goals. This will follow up on that article with an example of something we have been working on for some time. It may surprise you.

I say “surprise” because two years ago, who would have thunk it that I would be writing an article about the cooperation between OOIDA and the TIA – the Transportation Intermediaries Association, otherwise known as “the brokers.” 

OOIDA members, Land Line readers, and Land Line Now listeners for the past several years have had a front row seat to the intense debate between our respective organizations.

During the last Congress, with the enthusiastic support and encouragement of OOIDA, several bills named the TRUCC Act were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. TRUCC stands for Trust in Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs Act. The bills were HR5977, sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR; HR5934, sponsored by Rep. Tom Petri, R-WI; and S2910, sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME. The purpose of all three bills was to bring more transparency to the transactions between truckers and brokers.

As the TRUCC Act began to gain traction with members of Congress and the rhetoric began to ratchet up between our organization and the TIA, there was a sense that the better solution would be for our two organizations to work together to produce a solution that would lessen the conflict, recognizing each other’s position.

Often, when conflicting organizations are fighting over legislation, members of Congress feel as though they are getting pulled in different directions. Compromise moves out of reach. For every powerful member of Congress who supports our cause, the other side can convince another powerful member to join their cause. Lawmakers prefer to ask the competing organizations to work together to resolve the dispute.

So, long story short, TIA and OOIDA began a dialogue with each other. We began to lay out our respective positions regarding the relationship between truckers and brokers. We were straightforward and candid.

What has the result been? 

Well, it has not been easy, but together we’ve worked with Sen. Snowe, who has garnered support from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, in writing a bill based on common principles. Our hope is to have Congress pass this legislation as a stand-alone bill or include it as part of the next highway authorization bill. 

What does the legislation include?

The legislation produced includes some positive developments that will give confidence to truckers as they conduct business with brokers.

It would:

  • Raise the bar for entities seeking a freight-broker or freight-forwarder license and operating authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Make information about entities seeking operating authority available online for public review.
  • Increase the surety bond requirement for freight brokers and freight forwarders to $100,000 from its current level of $10,000, while requiring FMCSA to immediately suspend the operating authority for any freight broker or freight forwarder whose bond coverage falls below $100,000.
  • Require transportation intermediaries to renew their licenses annually.
  • Dedicate revenue generated from new registration requirements to be used by FMCSA for oversight and enforcement activities.
  • Require all entities (motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders) to have a valid broker license and an appropriate surety bond in place before brokering freight for compensation.
  • Create strict penalties for operating without a valid broker license, including unlimited liability for all freight charges.

In the weeks and months to come, we are hopeful that, by working with a previous adversary, we can find a solution to problems that have dogged truckers for years and create a better environment for all in the trucking industry. But in the weeks and months ahead we will also sleep with one eye open. LL

 

mike_joyce@ooida.com

July Digital Edition