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Brokers and Small Carriers Fight, with FMCSA Referee

On October 28th, the FMCSA held another virtual conference, this time regarding broker regulations. In attendance were various representatives from the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), and the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC). As you can imagine, the TIA wants fewer regulations, and the OOIDA and SBTC want more. Here is what happened.

Beginnings

In May, the OOIDA filed a petition with the FMCSA asking to require brokers to send electronic copies of transactions to each party within 48 hours of the job being fulfilled. The way things are now, a broker must keep copies of every transaction in their office for a specific length of time, and parties involved with the transaction are allowed to access the record at any time, but the broker is not required to actively give them it.

This has created something of a loophole, the OOIDA argued. By having the records in one area in an industry where people work across the nation, the difficulty of making a detour to the broker office makes it rarely worth the effort.

Another issue the OOIDA petitioned for the FMCSA was to make it against regulations to create contracts that require the driver to waive their rights to view the records in order to be signed on to a contract. This is a petition that the SBTC agrees with fully.

The TIA is not a fan of these petition ideas, and has been against them for years.

The Meeting

The meeting started with James Lamb, SBTC’s executive director, telling the panel of FMCSA officials that his organization was not looking for new federal regulations, but rather that the FMCSA better enforce the transparency regulations already on the books by closing loopholes. Lamb feels as though brokers act like current transparency, “doesn’t already exist, hasn’t been in place for 40 years, isn’t grounded in 70-plus years of congressional and regulatory wisdom dating back to the 1940s.” Lamb also says that by allowing the contractual provisions, the brokers effectively regulate themselves rather than by the FMCSA or Department of Transportation.

Chirs Burrows of the TIA stood in opposition of these petitions to tighten the rulebook. He called it “an attempt to undermine the free market”, said that the petitions would add to costs if granted, and said it was not the FMCSA’s place to enforce regulations regarding broker transparency, as that has little to do with safety in itself.

Todd Spencer of the OOIDA then fired back, saying that the FMCSA “would not create any new burdens by adopting the new provisions we are seeking.”

Wiley Deck concluded the meeting by saying the comments from all parties were insightful, and asked stakeholders in the industry to submit their comments to the relevant docket by November 18th.

Conclusion

If we may interject, we feel as though both sides had made decent points during the virtual conference. On one hand, the OOIDA is almost certainly right that, with today’s technological standards a fifth of the way through the 21st century, sending out transaction receipts electronically should take almost no effort at all. At the same time, the TIA is right that it is called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, not the Federal Motor Carrier Transparency Association. Perhaps another arm of the Department of Transportation would be better suited for enforcing broker transparency regulations.

Whatever your opinion on the subject, make sure you are heard by commenting on the regulations website before the deadline!

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