Detention and market forces

By Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs

So the ATA opposes any attempt by the government to insert itself into the issue of delays in loading and unloading? They believe the issue is best dealt with in the marketplace through contracting.

How well is that working for you?

Studies exist that clearly show this is an issue. And the only part of the “free market” that appears to be working for most small-business truckers is emphasis on the word “free,” as in your time isn’t worth anything to many shippers and receivers.

Magically, they believe all you need to do is just include provisions in your transportation contracts with brokers, shippers, or receivers and presto – problem solved! I can’t believe none of us ever figured that one out. Oh, that’s right, just try to include a provision on detention time in a contract and do most of you think you will be tendered freight? Many who actually have lived in the “real market” know the obvious answer.

Some voices in the industry say that forcing shippers and receivers to be accountable for your time will lead to charging truckers when they are late for appointments. Apparently, these same folks are ignorant to the fact that it’s already happening. Many shippers and receivers assess all kinds of fees for arriving late, rescheduling appointments, etc. Mostly you find out about these fees after you’ve arrived and they won’t begin to unload until their palms are greased with money. Yet they won’t pay you a dime after keeping you sitting for six hours.

But that’s OK; it’s a rational market at work, right? Actually, it’s called extortion and small-business truckers don’t have the collective market power to resist these outrages that happen every day. Larger motor carriers do, and their ability to effectively deal with this issue gives them a leg up in the market.

Yet dig a little deeper and you find that the same folks preaching market-based solutions to deal with many of the various trucking issues are frauds. They actively lobby for and support government mandates on your business. EOBRs and speed limiters are two examples. They support and seek government handouts to buy new environmentally compliant trucks while supporting ever more environmental restrictions on trucking.

Their position is pure hypocrisy. LL