Friday, April 25, 2008 – Truckers sick of middlemen in the industry living high on the hog by pocketing fuel surcharges are encouraged to be vocal in support of a bill calling for mandatory pass-through of surcharges.
Senate Bill 2910 introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, seeks to mandate 100 percent pass-through of fuel surcharges to whoever actually buys the fuel.
“For too long, our small-business motor freight carriers, who struggle every day to make ends meet, have had their concerns ignored and neglected,” Snowe said on the Senate floor on Thursday, April 24, when she introduced the bill.
“Today, as the entire trucking industry faces monumental economic challenges spurred by skyrocketing, record-breaking oil prices and exorbitant and volatile fuel costs, not to mention a detrimental slowdown in the hiring of new drivers, our independent operators are having to contend with a devastating economic downturn and enduring business failures – the likes of which this country has not seen since 2000.”
Snowe told senators that nearly 1,000 motor carriers failed in the first quarter of this year – a rate of failure sure to take a toll on the nation’s economy.
“As you can imagine, the financial impact is enormous, especially given that the Bureau of Transportation Statistics projects freight to grow by more than 70 percent by 2020,” she said. “Forestalling action is not an option if we are to sustain our trucking industry, which is an undeniable, economic lifeline of this nation.”
Fuel surcharges have been a staple in the industry as a way that trucking companies can recoup the high cost of fuel. And now with skyrocketing fuel prices, more and more is being collected – but not passed on.
There is currently not a uniform fuel surcharge standard for the trucking industry. Fuel surcharges must be negotiated individually, leaving shippers and truckers vulnerable to opportunistic middlemen.
“This bill will go a long way toward helping truckers and their shipping customers weather the brutal cost of fuel,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president. “Senators Snowe and Brown are commended for their leadership on this matter.”
Spencer went on to point out that it’s all too common for middlemen in the trucking industry to push shippers to pay fuel surcharges, but only pass along a portion of those surcharges to the truckers who are actually hauling the freight and paying the fuel bill.
To make matters worse, small-business truckers are often denied access to the contracts and rate information negotiated between freight brokers and the shipper or customer they are hauling freight for.
The TRUCC Act also looks to ensure that brokers and middlemen negotiating a contract to haul freight for a shipper are not using the high price of fuel to exploit that shipper or the small-business trucker who actually hauls the shipper’s freight.
OOIDA issued a national Call to Action on Friday encouraging truckers, as well as their family and friends, to speak out in support of S2910. To read the call to action, click here, and to view the bill. click here.
Truckers wanting to express their support for S2910, the TRUCC Act, should contact their senators. Those who don’t know who their senators are can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and provide their ZIP code to the operator to be connected to the appropriate office.
– By Jami Jones, senior editor